All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen is confident centre Sonny Bill Williams will have completed a four game suspension in time to play in the first Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia next month.
Williams was sent off in the second Test against the Lions on July 1 for a dangerous shoulder charge onwinger Anthony Watson.
He became only the third All Blacks player to be sent off in a rugby Test, and the first in 50 years.
He missed the drawn third Lions Test and the Auckland Blues’ shock Super Rugby loss to Japan’s Sunwolves last weekend.
The centre, however, is also registered with provincial side Counties Manukau and two of their pre-season matches will also count as part of the suspension.
Hansen said it meant the centre would be available when New Zealand face Australia in Sydney on August 19.
Meanwhile, Hansen is hoping, despite reports, that Malakai Fekitoa does not leave New Zealand to play club rugby in Europe but will support the midfield back if he decides to make the move.
“He’s making a decision based on what’s right for him, and like all of the guys that go overseas, we don’t want them to go, but we’ve got to support them,” the coach said.
“If he goes overseas, we’ll support him in that.”