Sonny Bill Williams’ achilles injury could reportedly see him out for up to nine months, delaying his return to the All Blacks and Super Rugby.
Williams was included in the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship, due to join Super Rugby’s Auckland Blues ahead of the 2017 season.
His injury blow has put that all into question, with the worst case scenario keeping him out of rugby until May next year.
Williams was never going to play in the first Test on August 20, but coach Steve Hansen said when announcing the squad that the centre would be a chance for the second a week later in Wellington.
Williams announced his intention to return to Super Rugby earlier this year, signing with the Auckland Blues for the next three seasons.
New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew confirmed the worst on Wednesdfay morning, speaking on New Zealand radio.
"He has a partial rupture of his Achilles tendon, which means he will be out of rugby for six to nine months," Tew told NZ's Newstalk ZB Radio.
Blues and All Blacks backrower Jerome Kaino said it was tough to hear the news of Williams’ injury.
“By the sounds of things it’s going to be quite a lengthy recovery for him and that’s sad news,” he said.
“Unfortunately, that’s part of the the game and injuries are always going to happen.”
Williams is likely to be replaced by Chiefs centre Anton Lienert-Brown in the All Blacks Rugby Championship squad.
The starting midfield combination from the June Tests, Ryan Crotty and George Moala, were both included in the squad and after the Wales whitewash, would likely be the first in line to get a call-up.
The injury would likely rule Williams out of next year’s inaugural Brisbane Tens, an event for which he’d be a major drawcard.
Kaino said there would be no problem attracting their strongest players for that tournament, which will play a role in preseason for many of the Super Rugby franchises.
The tournament includes the five Australian and New Zealand franchises as well as the Samoan national team and contingents from Toulon, Japan’s Panasonic Wild Knights and South Africa’s Bulls.
“I think everyone’s going to put their hands up,” Kaino said.
“The top-class players will definitely want to play.
“It’s replacing one of the preseason games we have before Super Rugby so they’d be involved anyway.
“I don’t think they’ll struggle to get any players involved or wanting to be involved. It’s a great new concept and gives us a more realistic preparation than just training.”
The Brisbane Global Tens will be held on February 11 and 12 next year.