Sonny Bill Williams in All Blacks squad

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Sonny Bill Williams will head straight from the Olympics into All Blacks preparations, with the centre named in New Zealand's Rugby Championship squad on Monday.

Williams has not played any 15s rugby since last year's Rugby World Cup, joining the New Zealand Sevens program ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Monday's announcement means he could line up for the All Blacks as soon as August 20, less than a week after the Olympic competition concludes,but coach Steve Hansen said on Monday, he would be more likely to return in the Wellington Test a week later.

"He’ll miss the first Test," he said.

"Depending on how he turns up after the Olympics, what shape he’s in fatigue wise and mentally, he may miss the second one or he may be involved."

Wiliams's impending return has pushed Seta Tamanivlau out of the 32-man squad, with Hansen preferring George Moala to make up the midfield group.

Kieran Read will captain the All Blacks. Photo: Getty ImagesThe halves battle looms as an enticing one, with Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara both in scintillating form for the Hurricanes, though incumbent number nine Aaron Smith would be hard to usurp.

Backrower Kieran Read will again captain New Zealand though the tournament. 

Hurricanes winger Nehe Milner-Skudder was not considered because of a season-ending injury, while Chiefs centre Charlie Ngatai continues to battle concussion symptoms.

New Zealand go into camp for two days this week in Auckland's North Shore, with all bar the Hurricanes players competing in the Super Rugby final attending, before coming together again on August 11.

Damian McKenzie, Tamanivalu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Steven Luatua, Melani Nanai and Matt Todd will also be included in this weekend's camp.

The All Blacks play their first Rugby Championship Test against the Wallabies on August 20 in Sydney.


Dane Coles (Wellington / Hurricanes, 39)

Codie Taylor (Canterbury / Crusaders, 5)

Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty / Chiefs, 4)


Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury / Crusaders, 48)

Charlie Faumuina (Auckland / Blues, 36)

Owen Franks (Canterbury / Crusaders, 80)

Joe Moody (Canterbury / Crusaders, 14)

Ofa Tu'ungafasi (Auckland / Blues, 1)


Brodie Retallick (Hawke's Bay / Chiefs, 50)

Luke Romano (Canterbury / Crusaders, 24)

Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland / Blues, 9)

Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury / Crusaders, 75)

Loose Forwards

Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty / Chiefs, 34)

Elliot Dixon (Southland / Highlanders, 1)

Jerome Kaino (Auckland / Blues, 69)

Kieran Read, captain (Canterbury / Crusaders, 87)

Ardie Savea (Wellington / Hurricanes, 2)

Liam Squire (Tasman / Highlanders, 1)


Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato / Chiefs, 21)

TJ Perenara (Wellington / Hurricanes, 19)

Aaron Smith (Manawatu / Highlanders, 50)

First five-eighths

Beauden Barrett was damaging. Photo: Getty ImagesBeauden Barrett (Taranaki / Hurricanes, 39)

Aaron Cruden (Manawatu / Chiefs, 39)

Lima Sopoaga (Southland / Highlanders, 2)


Ryan Crotty (Canterbury / Crusaders, 18)

Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland / Highlanders, 15)

George Moala (Auckland / Blues, 2)

Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau / Chiefs, 33)

Outside backs

Israel Dagg (Hawke's Bay / Crusaders, 51)

Waisake Naholo (Taranaki / Highlanders, 6)

Julian Savea (Wellington/ Hurricanes, 43)

Ben Smith (Otago / Highlanders, 51)