Image: Rio Olympics – Rugby – Preliminary – Men’s Pool C New Zealand v Japan – Deodoro Stadium – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 09/08/2016. Sonny Bill Williams (NZL) of New Zealand in action. REUTERS/Phil Noble
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – All Blacks back Sonny Bill Williams has been cleared of concussion and flown to South Africa with the Auckland Blues’ squad for their match against the Stormers in Cape Town.
Williams suffered a knee to the head during the win over the New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney last week and missed Friday’s 50-32 home win over the Cheetahs.
He is expected to start at inside centre against the Stormers as the Blues look to keep their playoffs hopes alive in the hugely competitive New Zealand conference.
The Blues lost two players for the Cape Town match, however, with prop Pauliasi Manu and flyhalf Ihaia West both injured during the Cheetahs match.
Manu left the field early with a calf problem while West strained his ankle when he came on as a substitute for Piers Francis who was injured in the first half.
Manu has been replaced by Sione Mafileo, with Bryn Gatland, the son of British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland, re-joining the Blues as a replacement for West.
Francis was considered fit enough to travel with the squad.
The Blues’ sixth win for the season on Friday has them on 31 points, one shy of the Otago Highlanders, who hold the last available of the three wildcard berths for the playoffs in the Australasian conference.
The Highlanders can extend the lead, however, if they beat the Bulls in Pretoria later on Saturday.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)
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