All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams is in doubt for the first half of the Blues Super Rugby season in 2017 after he injured his Achilles playing Sevens Rugby at the Olympics.
Williams has been ruled out of the Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup, the All Blacks end of year tour and possibly the Super Rugby season until May.
The two time Rugby World Cup Winner is officially out of action for six to nine months which puts him in dounbt for the start of the 2017 Super Rugby season with his new team the Blues.
New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew confirmed that Williams will be unavailble until the middle of next year.
“He has a partial rupture of his Achilles tendon, which means he will be out of rugby for six to nine months,” Tew told Newstalk ZB Radio.
“He will be unavailable for the All Blacks and Steve (Hansen) and the other coaches will have to start thinking about a replacement. Whoever gets that chance will make the most of it.”
Williams had only recently signed a three year deal to play Super Rugby for the Blues but due to his commitments to NZSevens was never in contention for the first Rugby Champioship Tests.
The All Black star is likely to be replaced by Chiefs centre Anton Lienert-Brown in the All Blacks Rugby Championship squad
In the June Tests the All Blacks coach Steve Hansen used Ryan Crotty and George Moala in the midfield so the loss of Williams is not a major loss for the All Blacks.
Chiefs centre Seta Tamanivalu and Charlie Ngatai are also in contention to replace Williams in the All Blacks squad.
All Blacks hooker and Hurricanes captain Dane Coles told Stuff that he is confident whoever is called in to replace Williams will make the “step up”.
“It’s obviously very gutting. He’s a world class player, but the thing with the All Blacks is when someone gets an opportunity, they usually step up, so I don’t know who they’re going to call in, but I’m sure whoever gets that chance, they’ll step up.”
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 told the ARU .
“Unfortunately, that’s part of the the game and injuries are always going to happen.”