Sonny Bill Williams wait of twiddling his thumbs to get back playing footy is finally over, as the Blues man returns to the starting line-up for the All Blacks clash against Australia.
Williams ban stretched over four games following the 32-year-old’s shoulder charge on Anthony Watson in the second test against the Lions. Head coach, Steve Hansen, is relishing the return of a player who received New Zealand’s first red card in 50 years on home soil:
“He’s raring to go. He’s done his four-game suspension. It’s been an awkward time for him, it’s been tough,” — Steve Hansen
The midfield battle was an area that New Zealand arguably lost following Williams’ red card in Wellington, hence the selector’s excitement at pairing Ryan Crotty and SBW together once again following a dominant display in the first test victory at Eden Park.
The coaches just need to remind Williams that he’s playing rugby union, and not rugby league:
— Pasion Por Rugby (@PasionPorRugby) July 1, 2017
Hansen has made six changes from the side that drew the final test game against the Lions 15-15. Damian Mackenzie comes in for Jordie Barrett who impressed in the final test but has been ruled out for the rest of the season following a shoulder injury the 20-year-old suffered in Super Rugby.
Ardie Savea continues to miss out on a starting position, with the winger once again on the bench, and there is no place for Jerome Kaino in the squad. The 34-year-old’s yellow cards in his previous two matches have played a part in poor discipline, as Hansen looks to be moving away from the Kaino-Cane-Read back-three combination.
Backs: 15) Damian McKenzie; 14) Ben Smith, 13) Ryan Crotty, 12) Sonny Bill Williams, 11) Rieko Ioane; 10) Beauden Barrett, 9) Aaron Smith.
Forwards: 1) Joe Moody, 2) Codie Taylor, 3) Owen Franks; 4) Brodie Retallick, 5) Sam Whitelock; 6) Liam Squire, 7) Sam Cane, 8) Kieran Read (captain).