Dan Carter has returned to the All Blacks’ starting XV for Saturday’s Test against the Wallabies in Hong Kong but there’s no room for Sonny Bill Williams.
Carter missed the third Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney with an ankle injury, but has recovered from surgery to reclaim the No 10 jersey from the axed Aaron Cruden.
But Williams, a rugby league recruit who has played for Canterbury in the national provincial championship, has been overlooked by coach Graham Henry and may have to wait until the Scotland match in two weeks’ time to make his All Blacks debut.
‘We didn’t want to fire Sonny Bill into the deep end,’ Henry said. ‘We think he needs a bit of time to get accustomed to what we are trying to do out there and I think he needs clarity of what this All Blacks team are trying to do. It would have been a big ask to throw him out there in a big Test match like this without having time to get his feet under the table.’
Henry has made three other changes to the side that beat the Wallabies 23-22 with Joe Rokocoko returning to the left wing for Israel Dagg (injured), Jimmy Cowan at halfback for Piri Weepu (injured), and Jerome Kaino at blindside flanker for Victor Vito (not on tour).
New Zealand – 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 John Afoa, 18 Samuel Whitelock, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Isaia Toeava.