Williams in third Test mix, Hansen defends All Blacks

International
AAP
by AAP

A week after singing to the world under hospital medication, Sonny Bill Williams is poised to make a surprise return to the All Blacks.

Coach Steve Hansen says Williams is a chance to play in the third Test against France in Dunedin on June 23, having made a rapid recovering from knee surgery.

The 32-year-old inside centre was initially ruled out of the three-Test series after loose cartilage was found in his knee.

He is cleared to resume training next week but won't be considered for the second Test in Wellington on Saturday.

The good news comes seven days after Williams posted a clip on twitter in which he serenades hospital staff from his bed while on "very strong" meds.

Elsewhere, uncapped loose forward Jordan Taufua has been ruled out of the series with a calf tear suffered during an All Blacks training camp.

It means his Crusaders teammate Matt Todd will remain in the squad after being called in as cover.

Hansen dismissed French complaints of foul play as the latest in a long history of cheating accusations against the All Blacks.

France coach Jacques Brunel was livid following his team's 52-11 loss to the world champions in the first Test at Eden Park on Saturday.

Winger Remy Grosso suffered a fractured skull in two places in an awkward tackle involving All Blacks forwards Sam Cane and Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

Inexperienced England referee Luke Pearce didn't consult the TMO to review whether further punishment was appropriate, just as he didn't seek a second opinion on a key ruling earlier in the second half.

A tense Test blew open when visiting lock Paul Gabrillagues was shown a yellow card for a relatively innocuous high tackle on New Zealand back Ryan Crotty.

Brunel believed Tu'ungafasi's shoulder to the head of early try-scorer Grosso warranted at least a yellow card.

Grosso is unlikely to play in the two remaining Tests, leaving the French bitter no All Blacks were held accountable.

"I think that the way he was done by the All Blacks pair was illegal," Brunel said, also lamenting the sanction that left his own team a player short.

"The yellow card was key. It was very hard to fight with the All Blacks after that."


Hansen could understand Brunel's frustration, believing Gabrillagues didn't deserve a yellow card.

However, he dismissed claims the Grosso incident warrants a citing.

"We have been called cheats for 100 years haven't we? If you keep winning people will find reasons I suppose," he said.

"(Former captain) Richie McCaw was (called) the biggest cheat ever. But he didn't cheat, he just played to the letter of the law."

Hansen believed the dynamics of the Grosso tackle were unfortunate

"When you get two guys coming in to make a tackle on one, things can change late and I think that is what happened.

"Sam made the tackle and Ofa ended up hitting him in the face with his shoulder accidentally."

Hansen said Pearce was too quick to make rulings off real time and would have been better served consulting his assistants in both incidents.

New Zealand play France in their second June Test on Saturday June 16 in Wellington.