Sonny Bill Williams to miss first Bledisloe Cup clash

Sonny Bill Williams to miss first Bledisloe Cup clash

New Zealand will be unable to call upon Sonny Bill Williams for their Rugby Championship opener against Australia due to suspension.

Sonny Bill Williams will miss the Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia at the start of the Rugby Championship due to suspension, World Rugby has confirmed.

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Williams was sent off just 25 minutes into the second Test between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions on July 1 after he caught Anthony Watson in the head with a shoulder charge.

The cross-code star was issued with a four-week suspension that World Rugby says must equate to "four meaningful matches".

An independent judicial committee has deemed those fixtures to be the third Test against the Lions, the Blues' final Super Rugby outing against the Sunwolves, a pre-season match ahead of Counties Manukau's Mitre 10 Cup campaign and the clash with Australia in Sydney on August 19.

"Since the hearing on 2 July, the disciplinary committee has been receiving and reviewing additional submissions and evidence from the player's side relating to his upcoming schedule of matches," a World Rugby statement read.

"Following due consideration, the disciplinary committee has ruled that Williams' suspension will extend up to and including 19 August. As such, he is free to play again from 20 August."

The committee overlooked Williams' scheduled appearance in a match between Counties Manukau's A and B teams and his potential involvement in an All Blacks warm-up outing that will include two 40-minute segments against Counties Manukau and Taranaki.

It was ruled the Counties Manukau fixture was not meaningful, while the New Zealand appearance would not follow official regulations defining a match due to the change of opposition after 40 minutes and could thus not be included in the ban.

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