WELLINGTON – All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams is facing six weeks on the sidelines with minor knee surgery, the Auckland Blues said on Thursday, denting his hopes of going for a third Rugby World Cup title in September.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald said it was a “big blow” to lose the 33-year-old former rugby league star and heavyweight boxer, who will undergo arthroscopic surgery after suffering an injury on March 30.
Williams, who was hurt setting up a crucial try in the Blues' Super Rugby win over the Western Stormers, was already facing competition for a midfield slot in the All Blacks' World Cup squad.
“It's a big blow, I feel sorry for him. It's unfortunate for him,” MacDonald told media in Auckland. “Whatever he decides to do, he puts his mind to it and he sort of makes happen.
“If he still wants to play later on, he's the sort of guy that you would never write off. He's pretty determined guy, this year he wants to make the World Cup squad and be a part of that obviously.
“He's pretty driven to make sure he recovers well from this injury and gets back on the field.”
The 51-Test veteran lifted the World Cup in 2011 and 2015, but he has racked up a series of injuries in recent years.
Ryan Crotty, Ngani Laumape and Anton Lienert-Brown are among the other All Blacks centres vying for a spot at the World Cup in Japan.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)