Cape Town - Centre Sonny Bill Williams is in doubt for the All Blacks’ opening Rugby Championship encounter against Argentina after suffering a tight hamstring.
The 33-year-old was absent for most of the Blues’ Super Rugby campaign due to a knee injury, but was named in the national squad for the upcoming tournament.
Williams returned for the Auckland outfit towards the end of the season but still needed to prove his fitness ahead of the game with the Pumas.
He was due to play club rugby this weekend, joining Karl Tu’inukuafe (Takapuna), Ofa Tuungafasi (Grammar TEC), Patrick Tuipulotu and Rieko Ioane (Ponsonby), Dalton Papalii (Pakuranga), Brodie Retallick (Central Hawke’s Bay) and Luke Jacobson (Hautapu) in turning out for their local side.
However, that will not now happen with the centre pulling up in training and the former Chiefs man is in a race to be fit for the start of the Rugby Championship on Saturday, July 20.
Williams has garnered 51 caps for his country, playing a significant part in their 2011 and 2015 World Cup triumphs, but his latest setback is a blow.
Steve Hansen is clearly a fan of the experienced back, but the head
coach has several midfield options at his disposal and the ex-rugby
league star will have to find some form before the global competition in
Japan on September 20.
New Zealand's 39-man squad named for the opening two matches of this year's Rugby Championship against Argentina and South Africa:
Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Shannon Frizell, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd
TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Josh Ioane, Richie Mo'unga, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith