All Blacks draft in Anton Lienert-Brown for Rugby Championship
Last Updated: 11/08/16 7:18am
New Zealand have called up uncapped Chiefs centre Anton Lienert-Brown to their squad for the Rugby Championship in place of the injured Sonny Bill Williams.
Two-times World Cup winner Williams partially tore his Achilles tendon during the rugby sevens tournament at the Olympics in Rio and has been ruled out of action for up to nine months.
Lienert-Brown, 21, was brought into the All Blacks camp last week to train with the squad, and his ability to play both midfield positions has earned him the nod ahead of Chiefs team-mate Seta Tamanivalu.
Tamanivalu played two Tests in the June series against Wales.
"The reason why we have gone for Anton is because he can play second five and centre and he gives us better options there," said coach Steve Hansen.
The All Blacks begin the Rugby Championship campaign on August 20 against Australia in Sydney, and Hansen had been counting on Williams joining the team ahead of their second clash, also against the Wallabies, in Wellington on August 27.
The 31-year-old had committed to the sevens programme full time and not played any 15-aside rugby this season.
Hansen, however, said there could be a silver lining in Williams' enforced absence, given that he has played rugby union, rugby league and sevens virtually non-stop for the past six years.
"If you look at the positive side for Sonny it gives him now six or seven months where his body gets a break," Hansen said.
"He probably hasn't had that for a long time because he's such a good athlete right across the field, he does so many different things so eight or nine months off probably won't hurt him.
"It might frustrate him, but it won't hurt him."