Sonny Bill Williams was shown a straight red card by referee in Jerome Garces in the second Lions test earlier this month.
The centre led with his shoulder into a tackle on Anthony Watson and caught the Englishman in the head, almost knocking him out. Garces and his officials reviewed the incident and eventually brandished red.
Williams was handed a four-week ban days later having been the first All Black to be sent off in fifty years. World Rugby’s regulations mean it’s really a four match ban due to the timing of the citing.
It was thought at the time that the 31-year-old would miss his side’s Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia in August. However, according to the NZ Herald, the All Blacks are trying to get Williams back for the match in Sydney. The Auckland native missed the final Test against the Lions as well as the Blues’ shock defeat to the Sunwolves meaning there are only two more games left on his sanction.
The final two games that SBW would be sidelined for may not count under the rules of the suspension. The report explains:
“Williams plays for Counties Manukau in the Mitre 10 Cup and in theory two of the Steelers’ pre-season matches could count as part as of his suspension.”
The Kiwi coaching staff, the newspaper reveals, are seeking clarification from World Rugby on what constitutes a match.
Furthermore, the AB’s informal warm-up match against Taranaki and Manuaku could also count. An even more unusual element of this story is his registration with the Puni Rugby Club, a tiny group that had a playoff game today that Williams could conceivably have played in.
News on the player’s ability for the game against the Wallabies will emerge in the coming weeks.