Sacked rugby league player Tony Williams apologises for Jarryd Hayne sexual assault post

A remorseful Tony Williams has apologised to the victim in the Jarryd Hayne sexual assault case for the hurt his social media post has caused, saying: “I hope she gets through it and lives a happy life”.

Williams had his contract torn up by his future employer, US league team New York Freedom, as well as his current one, Windsor Wolves, following comments he made in an Instagram post.

Hayne on Thursday was sentenced to jail for five years and nine months, with a minimum non-parole period of three years and eight months, after he was found guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent after meeting a woman in Newcastle in September 2018. Hayne is appealing the verdict.

Hayne’s sentence prompted Williams to write on Instagram, in a post that started with the words “fn dogs”: “Before I let this be just want to congratulate the victim and the so called justice system you’ve sent an innocent brotherly (sic) to jail away from he’s (sic) kids you bunch of flops ... that’s all respectfully.”

 Williams said he wanted to show his support for Hayne, who he described as a brother because they grew up together in Sydney’s south-west. But in his first interview since the controversy, former NSW and Australia star Williams conceded he went about it entirely the wrong way.

“I understand I hurt a lot of people, but it wasn’t what I was trying to do,” Williams told the Sun-Herald. “If I had my time again, I would have chosen my words a lot better than that.

“I do show remorse. I can’t imagine what she was going through or what happened.

“I never meant to hurt them in any way. My anger was about my mate, who I have grown up with since we were kids, going to jail. If anyone has a loyal brother or friends in the same way they will understand.

“I hope she does recover from whatever she has gone through and lives happily with her family and can move on from this.”

Williams is the father of two daughters and also has six sisters. The 32-year-old said he realised he had done the wrong thing well before his mother, Ufitonga, berated him for his comments.

“Polynesians grow up to respect our women, respect our sisters – whatever they say we listen,” he said. “My mum went off at me and said, ‘What happens if it is your sister or daughter?’

“That got into my head. I understand that, it made me [realise] I said it the wrong way.

“I wasn’t targeting [the victim]. This stuff that happened goes against what I was taught, because my parents taught me better. Sometimes anger takes over what you’re really trying to express. I should have gone about it in the right way where it didn’t hurt people.

“If I did it again, I would choose my words differently.”

Like Williams, another former Hayne teammate, Krisnan Inu, posted a statement of support for the convicted cross-code star that he has also subsequently apologised for. The career of another close friend of the trio, Israel Folau, has also effectively ended following controversial social media posts he made about homosexuality.

“Now I know how he [Folau] feels,” Williams said. “You can understand how we all bond; it’s a connection we had and just had to express something.

“I know a lot of people who don’t know us would say ‘They are flops’ or whatever. They should question themselves, what they would do for their brothers and their close mates that they grew up with. Would they do the same or would they just let them burn?

“Obviously [Hayne] is leaving his family. He’s got a kid on the way he might not see. That hurts me because I know if I wasn’t there for my kid, it would kill me.

“It came out the wrong way. I didn’t think about what I was saying about the victim and her family.”

Williams said his actions are a cautionary tale to young players about the dangers of posting impulsively on social media.

“I hope this teaches the younger guys coming up that you have to be careful with words,” he said. “If it’s not worth it, don’t do it. A perfect example of not allowing your emotions to control your decisions.

“The consequences are not light. It’s a learning curve. Even at my age and at the end of my career, I’m still learning.

“It’s disappointing and upsetting and hopefully the younger generation can learn from it and [I can] be better as a person.”

Williams’ final words were for the victim.

“To the victim and her family, apologies,” he said.