Inspiring centre Sonny Bill Williams is the latest injury concern for All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Williams left the field during the Auckland Blues’ Super Rugby win over the NSW Waratahs with a head injury and did not reappear after the Head Injury Assessment (HIA).
Blues’ coach Tana Umaga told the New Zealand Herald that Williams displayed the signs of a concussion but did not reveal the outcome of the HIA that was conducted at the ground. The team doctor though, it transpired, had recommended that Williams should not continue. What’s more unfortunate is that the injury occurred when teammate and prop Pauliasi Manu landed on Williams. Umaga said:
“It will be a wait and see how he responds. It’s just how he pulls up today, how he pulls up tomorrow. He was still having symptoms after the game.
“He just wasn’t feeling well. What’s happened with concussion in the past…sometimes people respond well and can play next week and sometimes they don’t.
“We are seeing cases now where people don’t come back. I don’t want to put him in that box. He was up and about and alert but knew himself he was feeling off
“No one knows their body like themselves. we will take every precaution.
“I just talked to the doctor, who said I don’t think he should go back on. I don’t know if he failed the test as such.”
Williams’ injury ironically transpired just as Charlie Ngatai returned to the Waikato Chiefs after a year sidelined by a concussion. The hope is that Williams’ injury will not be nearly as severe, however.
Nevertheless, the All-Black potential injury list includes Captain Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino, Dane Coles and now Williams. Without these key players, the British and Irish Lions would undoubtedly face a slightly easier task of picking up a first series win over the Kiwis since 1971.
The Lions tour starts on June 3rd, with the first test game taking place on June 17th.
Eoin Neylon, Pundit Arena