Written by Stuart McLennan
New York Freedom Rugby League CEO and Player/Coach Mark Offerdahl has pulled off a coup by signing former NSW Origin player and Australia and Tonga international Tony Williams for the North American Rugby League (NARL) upcoming season.
The giant utility, nicknamed T-Rex, played 170 matches at NRL clubs Parramatta, Manly, Canterbury and Cronulla between 2008 and 2018. The 32 year old has been plying his trade with Windsor Wolves in the Ron Massey Cup this season.
Offerdahl told Everything Rugby League that Williams will offer “experience, knowledge, athletic ability, power, skill, and mentorship” to the team.
The USA international is adamant that the Freedom have some more big signings in the pipeline and he stated they are also very keen to harvest local talent within the tri-state.
As is fitting for a New York based club Offerdahl said the organisation has ambitious goals for the initial season.
“To win but also to develop USA homegrown players for the national team and become strong contenders on the world rugby league stage.”
New York recently announced a new name and logo for the NARL team which is separate from any other ventures such as an RFL League One entry.
Offerdahl revealed it was his wife that came up with the ‘Freedom’ moniker for the fledgling team.
“Her thinking was to get away from typical Rugby League team names with animals, creatures, or aggressive wording, and play for a more positive angle. I have to admit I wasn’t sure at first as I have been used to the way rugby league is in Australia, and she’s not a ‘leaguey’. But after bouncing the name around I thought actually this was a good thing as it gave a new perspective.
“America is, ‘the land of the free, home of the brave’, and New York is home to the world’s most iconic symbol of freedom so It just made sense, and the American public has really taken to it.
“Our vision is for New York Freedom to become the flagship team of the NARL, a team not just for fans within New York state, but the whole world as the sport grows in North America.”
New York will line up for their first match against Monte Gaddis’s Cleveland Rugby League in Brooklyn on June 19.