Sonny Bill Williams Named in All Blacks Team to Face EnglandMatthew Brockett
Blockbusting center Sonny Bill Williams has been selected by the All Blacks to face England at Twickenham this weekend, while record Test points scorer Dan Carter fails to make the side.
Williams will form a midfield pairing with veteran Conrad Smith in an All Blacks side boasting a combined 1,029 test caps, New Zealand Rugby said in a statement today. Aaron Cruden will start at fly-half with Beauden Barrett on the bench, leaving no room for Carter, who has just returned from a leg injury that has kept him out of the team for almost a year.
The World Champion All Blacks are playing third-ranked England less than a year out from the next Rugby World Cup, which is being hosted by the English. The two teams are tipped to face each other in the final, according to odds published by New Zealand betting agency TAB.
“This Test match is a great opportunity to once again experience the atmosphere of Twickenham and to lay down a marker,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said in the statement.
Williams, who helped the All Blacks win the last World Cup in 2011, only recently returned to rugby union after a stint in Australian rugby league.
All Blacks team: Wyatt Crockett, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read, Aaron Smith, Aaron Cruden, Julian Savea, Sonny Bill Williams, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg.
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Messam, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty