Sonny Bill Williams is in the frame to start for the All Blacks against the Wallabies on Saturday, with Ma’a Nonu in doubt for the Rugby Championship decider in Sydney.
Powerhouse No.12 Nonu was named in a 41-man squad on Sunday, but his place in the side is uncertain due to a shoulder injury.
Nonu suffered the setback in last weekend’s win over South Africa and while scans have cleared him of anything serious, he is badly bruised.
The Test match at ANZ Stadium – a happy hunting ground for Williams – is also the first of two Bledisloe Cup matches.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has a couple of strong options in Williams and Malakai Fekitoa should Nonu not take the field.
“We’re not going to risk him if he’s not right,” Hansen said.
“There’s a big season ahead, and we’ve got plenty of cover there so we’ll see how it goes.”
Williams, who played in the Sydney Roosters’ NRL premiership victory in 2013 and Canterbury’s in 2004 at ANZ Stadium, started at inside centre in the All Blacks’ opening win of the Rugby Championship against Argentina.
Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow comes into the squad for Andy Ellis while winger Patrick Osborne replaces speedster Cory Jane, who continues to battle injury.
Electrifying outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder has recovered from a rib injury which has prevented him from playing in the Rugby Championship and his appearance against the Wallabies will depend on how he measures up at training.
The All Blacks will prepare for the Australians in Auckland this week before flying to Sydney on Wednesday.