Williams to miss third Lions Test after copping four-week suspension

The All Blacks centre paid the price for a dangerous challenge on Anthony Watson.

Murray Kinsella reports from Queenstown

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS will miss the All Blacks’ third Test against the Lions next weekend after being suspended for four weeks for his dangerous challenge on Anthony Watson during Saturday’s 24-21 defeat in Wellington.

Sonny Bill Williams red carded by referee Jérôme Garcès Williams has been banned. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Williams was red carded by match referee Jerome Garces for thundering into Watson’s head with his right shoulder in the first half of the clash at Westpac Stadium and today’s judicial panel in Wellington found cause to punish the towering centre further.

Williams pleaded guilty at the hearing, which was overseen by a disciplinary panel of three Australians, Adam Casselden, David Croft and former Munster player John Langford.

Williams’ offence was found to have contravened law 10.4(g) for dangerous charging and ”was deemed to be reckless and warranted a mid-range entry level,” meaning a six-week suspension.

However, the judicial panel shaved two weeks off the ban on account of “mitigating factors including his early admission, his disciplinary record, good character and remorse.”

William has 48 hours in which he is entitled to appeal, but he is not expected to do so.

The All Blacks have called up Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa to compensate for the loss of Williams, and Fekitoa could even come straight into their starting XV for the third Test.

With Ryan Crotty sidelined with a hamstring injury, Steve Hansen’s other options in midfield alongside Anton Lienert-Brown are Ngani Laumape, who made his debut off the bench in Wellington, or the uncapped Jack Goodhue.

“Sonny is disappointed, not for himself, he accepts he’s made a mistake,” said All Blacks boss Steve Hansen this morning in Auckland.

“He’s disappointed because he let the team down. One of our biggest mantras is the team comes first and he knows he’s let the team down, but we can’t go back and change it. People make mistakes.”

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Murray Kinsella

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