All Blacks superstar Sonny Bill Williams has been named in New Zealand’s Rugby Championship squad.
The centre is currently with the Sevens squad ahead of the upcoming Rio Olympics
The Olympic tournament finishes on 11 August, with the first Test just nine days later
The All Blacks selectors, Steve Hansen, Ian Foster and Grant Fox, have selected their squad for the 2016 Rugby Championship.
Hurricanes outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder and Chiefs midfielder Charlie Ngatai weren’t considered for selection due to injury.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said he and his fellow selectors were very happy with the squad and combinations they had come up with.
“The form of the players in Super Rugby has been outstanding and, whilst there is not a lot of change from the June squad, it was still a challenging team to select. It was more a case of who do we leave out, rather than who do we pick.
“We’re confident that we’ve picked the right players for the Championship, with some proven combinations and some Test experience being balanced out by the need to continue to grow the newer players in our environment.”
Hansen said the number one goal for the All Blacks, clearly, was to win the Rugby Championship but there were also secondary goals supporting that.
“One is to re-establish our team, from a leadership and playing point of view. The second goal is to grow the understanding and confidence of our newer players, both on and off the track; and thirdly, we want to play a standard of rugby that we can all be proud of and excited by,” he said.
“The quality of the opposition we’ll face during the Rugby Championship will require a growth in our physicality, intensity and the standard of our preparation. How well we do that will be reflected in our results. It’s going to be a very competitive Championship, which we’re all really looking forward to.
“By the end of the tournament, we’d expect to have a greater understanding of where the 32 individual players are at, and their ability to cope and perform at Test level.”