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Sonny Bill appeals suspension in bid to face Australia in Rugby Championship opener

The All Blacks believe their shortened warm-up fixture against Counties Manukau and Taranaki should count in SBW’s ban.

Sonny Bill Williams reacts to his red card at Westpac Stadium
Sonny Bill Williams reacts to his red card at Westpac Stadium

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS has appealed against a World Rugby ruling that left him unavailable for New Zealand’s Bledisloe Cup opener against Australia.

All Blacks centre Williams was given a four-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson during the second Test against the British and Irish Lions.

Williams has already served half of his suspension, sitting out the third Test against the Lions and Blues’ last Super Rugby match of the season against the Sunwolves.

New Zealand Rugby felt their showpiece match of two halves against Taranaki and Counties Manukau should count as one of the four “meaningful matches” he must miss as well as a Counties Manukau pre-season encounter.

In the full written decision released yesterday however, the judicial committee ruled that the shortened games on August 11 involving Counties Manukau and Taranaki (each playing one half against the All Blacks before a half against each other) could not be recognised.

The governing body said Williams will not be free to play against until 20 August, a day after the All Blacks take on the Wallabies in Sydney.

Cross-code powerhouse Williams has not given up hope of playing in that match, though, opting to challenge the ruling.

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