Sonny Bill Williams. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Sonny Bill Williams. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Nelson — The battered and bruised All Blacks listed Sonny Bill Williams as a possible starter against SA this week after he spent three months sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Concussion-prone Ryan Crotty was also declared fit to go, and lock Patrick Tuipulotu earned a recall on news that Brodie Retallick and Ngani Laumape would be out for several weeks after being injured in Saturday’s hard-fought 46-24 win over Argentina in Nelson.

Retallick could be out for up to six weeks with a shoulder injury while Laumape, who was brought into the squad as injury cover, faces missing three weeks with a damaged knee.

But coach Steve Hansen said Crotty and Sam Cane have recovered from head knocks suffered against Australia early in the Rugby Championship, while Rieko Ioane — recovering from a hamstring injury — and Williams are also in the frame for selection.

Crotty and Cane could have played against Argentina "but we chose to give them another week", Hansen said on Sunday.

"Sonny, he’ll get an X-ray [on his shoulder] again on Monday and if everything’s clear there, he’ll be available as well.

"Rieko will be available, so while we’re losing a couple, we’re getting a couple back on deck as well."

Williams, who missed the first two Tests against France in June following knee surgery, played 58 minutes of the third Test before injuring his shoulder and has been out of action since.

With back-up lock Luke Romano already down with a calf strain, Tuipulotu got his recall after last playing for the All Blacks in November 2017.

The towering lock scored three tries in a provincial match at the weekend in what was his first game since injuring a shoulder in May.

The All Blacks’ six-tries-to-three win over Argentina kept them well in front in the Rugby Championship, with 15 points from three bonus-point wins. SA, Argentina and Australia have one win each, with SA second on the table courtesy of two bonus points.

Argentina’s impressive performance against the All Blacks on Saturday highlighted the threat they are likely to be at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Such was their performance, New Zealand Herald rugby writer Gregor Paul said they are a far different side from the one that entered the championship in 2012.

"They have been willing but not so able," Paul wrote. "They have been physical without the finesse to manipulate the last vestiges of the defence.

"They have been a 65-minute team, tough, frustrating and rugged; hard to break down until the last quarter when they make a few mistakes and are punished.

"But the old Argentina may be just that. In Nelson, the new Pumas were unveiled."

The Pumas pushed the All Blacks for much of the game, before late Shannon Frizell and Jack Goodhue tries ballooned the score.

AFP

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