Sonny Bill Williams in line to return for All Blacks against South Africa
Last Updated: 09/09/18 9:01am
Sonny Bill Williams is in contention to make his return for the All Blacks against South Africa next week after missing three months with a shoulder injury.
Flanker Sam Cane and centre Ryan Crotty have also been declared fit after recovering from head knocks suffered against Australia early in the Rugby Championship, while winger Rieko Ioane has recovered from a hamstring injury and is in the frame for selection.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: "Sonny, he'll get an X-ray (on his shoulder) again on Monday and if everything's clear there, he'll be available as well.
"Rieko will be available, so whilst we're losing a couple, we're getting a couple back on deck as well."
Williams, who missed the first two Tests against France in June following knee surgery, played 58 minutes of the third Test before injuring his shoulder and has been out of action ever since.
The All Blacks will be without lock Brodie Retallick and centre Ngani Laumape for several weeks after both were injured in Saturday's hard-fought 46-24 win over Argentina in Nelson.
Retallick could be out for up to six weeks with a shoulder injury while Laumape, brought into the squad as injury cover, faces missing three up to weeks with a damaged knee.
Lock Patrick Tuipulotu has earned a recall in place of Retallick, with back-up lock Luke Romano already out with a calf strain.
Tuipulotu, who last played for the All Blacks in November last year, scored three tries in a provincial match over the weekend in what was his first game since injuring a shoulder in May.
"Patrick will come in and Brodie will get scanned on Monday and then we'll have a better idea how long he'll be, but it could be a maximum six weeks," Hansen said.
"Hopefully that will be all. Minimum maybe three, so he'll be out for a wee while. Ngani's got grade-one ligament damage so he'll be two to three weeks."