Williams withdraws from Springboks clash

The Rugby Championship
by AFP

Sonny Bill Williams has pulled out of Saturday's All Blacks-Springboks Test just ohurs after being named to play.

Williams, who has played just 58 minutes of Test rugby this year in an injury-hampered season, was picked on the bench when the All Blacks announced their team early on Thursday morning.

By 10am AEST, Williams was ruled out once again, this time with illness, bringing Jack Goodhue back into the 23 for the Wellington Test.

There are 10 changes to the run-on side and five on the bench in a strong All Blacks combination looking to extend their unbeaten record in the fourth-round Rugby Championship match.

Ryan Crotty, Sam Cane and Rieko Ioane all made the starting lineup after missing last week's Test against Argentina because of injury.

"We know that we'll have to be at our very best," Hansen said when naming the side Thursday, and noting that South Africa "will be desperate" following back-to-back losses to Argentina and Australia.

He opted for Crotty to start in the 12 jersey, having been given the all clear after being knocked out against Australia early in the series.

Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett are reunited in the halves while Anton Lienert-Brown will play at outside centre.

Rieko Ioane returns from injury to the left wing, while Ben Smith moves to the right wing to make way for Jordie Barrett at fullback.

In the forwards, Sam Whitelock moves into the number four jersey, with Brodie Retallick injured, and Patrick Tuipulotu comes onto the bench as lock cover for his first Test of 2018.

Liam Squire and Cane return as flankers with Otago Highlanders rake Liam Coltman promoted to back up hooker ahead of Nathan Harris.

"We've had a good week's preparation, focussing on what we need to bring to the game through our skill sets, the intensity of our play and our energy," Hansen said.

"We'll have to be at our very best in all these areas to counter an opposition we know will be desperate following their back-to-back losses. That means we'll have to respond with a quality performance and a real hunger to be better.

"You just have to look at our last encounter in Cape Town to understand what kind of beast we will be facing."

The unbeaten All Blacks lead the Rugby Championship with 15 points from three bonus-point wins.

South Africa, Argentina and Australia have one win each, with South Africa second on the table courtesy of two bonus points.

When the All Blacks last played South Africa, in Cape Town last year, they scraped home 25-24 to complete a clean sweep of the championship, after comfortably winning the first leg 57-0 in New Zealand.

The All Blacks host South Africa in Wellington on Saturday September 15, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS. 


IN: Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Ryan Crotty, Jordie Barrett, Liam Coltman, Patrick Tuipulotu

OUT: Brodie Retallick, Shannon Frizell, Richie Mounga, Waisake Naholo, Ngani Laumape, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Nathan Harris, Luke Whitelock, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

All Blacks to face South Africa

1. Karl Tuinukuafe

2. Codie Taylor

3. Owen Franks

4. Sam Whitelock

5. Scott Barrett

6. Liam Squire

7. Sam Cane

8. Kieran Read

9. Aaron Smith

10. Beauden Barrett

11. Rieko Ioane

12. Ryan Crotty

13. Anton Lienert-Brown

14. Ben Smith

15. Jordie Barrett


16. Liam Coltman

17. Tim Perry

18. Ofa Tu'ungafasi

19. Patrick Tuipulotu

20. Ardie Savea

21. TJ Perenara

22.Jack Goodhue

23. Damian McKenzie