Hansen sees positives in Sonny Bill's injury

Sonny Bill Williams (Getty Images)
Sonny Bill Williams (Getty Images)

Wellington - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen put a positive spin on the season-ending injury to backline star Sonny Bill Williams, saying Thursday the rest would probably do him good in the long run.

Williams was due to re-join the New Zealand side for the Rugby Championship after the Olympics but his Rio campaign lasted only eight minutes before he suffered a ruptured Achilles.

The injury will keep him sidelined for at least six months, Hansen said on Thursday as he named Waikato Chiefs midfield back Anton Lienert-Brown as Williams's replacement.

Williams will undergo surgery when he returns to New Zealand from Rio and will not take the field again until next year.

"It's disappointing," Hansen said.

"He's a world-class player and he plays in a position where we've already lost two players (Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith) overseas, so it's not great for the planning. But it is what it is.

"If you look at the positive side for Sonny, it gives him now six or seven months where his body gets a break and he probably hasn't had that for a long time... It might frustrate him but it won't hurt him."

Hansen said he opted for the uncapped Lienert-Brown as the replacement because of his versatility to play inside or outside centre.

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