Rugby World Cup 2019: Sonny Bill Williams on track for selection against South Africa

Midfielder Sonny Bill Williams looks likely to be available for selection ahead of the All Blacks' Rugby Championship test against South Africa in Wellington on Saturday.

Assistant coach Ian Foster confirmed Williams had recovered from the hamstring issue suffered during the squad's opening training camp at the start of the month and, pending no setbacks, will be in the reckoning to line up against the Springboks at Westpac Stadium.

"He's travelled well and trained fully today," said Foster. "It's a matter of making sure that he's come through that with no ill effects tomorrow and Thursday morning and we'll see how it unfolds."

Prior to last week's test against Argentina, the coaching staff indicated they'd been pleased with his progress and that's continued through this week. 

The 33-year-old missed the majority of the Blues' Super Rugby campaign after undergoing knee surgery, which he put to the test in 50 minutes of action for Ponsonby in Auckland club rugby. In turn, he was selected for the 41-man national training camp, where he pulled up with a tight hamstring during an early session to rule him out of the Pumas test.

Foster insisted the All Blacks would be much better off for their hard-fought 20-16 win over the Pumas in Buenos Aires, where he saw some encouraging signs amidst some of the side's shortfallings.

"We were pretty rusty in some aspects… and often you get that when you come together for the first time. I thought a lot of our defensive work was outstanding against a pretty good Argentinian team, so we get a big tick for that.

"There were some parts of our attack I thought was really effective. We got some good lineout ball and we did a whole lot of little things well.

"But collectively when we got put under pressure, we just didn't look on the same page, and that's not unusual."

Foster expects the challenge to ramp up a level against the South Africans - who are fresh of an emphatic 35-17 win over the Wallabies with a second-string side - providing an even better indication of their progress, as they deal with the added challenge of merging the group from Argentina with the contingent of Crusaders who were rested last week.

"We know it's going to be very intense with the South Africans in town, it always is, and that's added a bit of spice to it. Plus the fact we have a few more steps to go before we're really where we want to be.

"We've got a group that's working really hard to be aligned as one and by signs, today have done a pretty good job of it."

The Springboks are negotiating a similar situation, having last week sent an advance pack of 14 players to New Zealand that included the likes of premier players Willie le Roux, Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk.

According to their assistant coach Matt Proudfoot, they'll look to balance their selection to allow the blooding of some of their less experienced players to the rigours of test rugby in New Zealand.

"We're going to expose some of those guys who haven't been here to playing the world's best team," said Proudfoot."What detail and intensity is needed at this level."

"We're going to continue to build our squad for the World Cup… it's an ideal opportunity for us to continue the process which we started last week."


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