All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says a season-ending injury for Sonny Bill Williams will at least give the multi-talented code hopper’s body a chance to recharge.
Williams has juggled both rugby codes and boxing over several years, with only the occasional injury interrupting a distinguished career stuffed full of titles and honours.
However, his run of success stopped in Rio last week, when he suffered a partially ruptured Achilles tendon in the sevens tournament at the Rio Olympics.
Hansen said the injury would allow Williams to spend more time with his family but would also provide another positive.
“He gets plenty of time for his body to recharge and probably hasn’t had a break for a long time,” Hansen said after the All Blacks arrived in Sydney for next Saturday’s Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Test.
“He’s been cross-coding in so many sports, he’s such a talented person.
“We’ll miss him, but at the same time it’s an opportunity for someone else.”
Hansen has become used to filling gaps in the All Blacks roster with the retirements of several prominent players after last year’s World Cup triumph.
The new-look side passed their first post-World Cup exam with a 3-0 home sweep of Wales in June.
Hansen stressed it was time for the new generation of players to make their mark on the big match scene, with Saturday’s Test providing the opportunity.
“We lost 818 caps so not many too teams could do that,” Hansen said.
“But we knew they were going, so we’ve been planning for it for a long time.
“That’s the exciting thing for this team now, we’ve got to stand up in the big arenas and show we can still do it, so that’s what we’re looking forward to on Saturday.”
The Wallabies took no joy out of the fact that they would no longer have to worry about countering the Williams threat this weekend.
“We want to play their best team, we want to win against their best team,” Wallabies’ vice-captain and back-rower Michael Hooper said.
“It’s unfortunate a guy like him won’t be there.”