Wellington - Chiefs midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown has been added to the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship as an injury replacement for Sonny Bill Williams.
The All Blacks made the announcement via their official website on Wednesday.
Originally in the wider training squad, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed the 21-year-old inside centre ewould take the place in the squad left by the injury to Williams at the Rio Olympics.
“He can cover second five-eighth (inside centre) and (outside) centre and gives us better options than anyone else,” Hansen said.
Lienert-Brown has had a breakout year in the Chiefs midfield. Across 14 performances for the Chiefs in 2016, he has helped to produce a club record of 76 team tries across the season.
A crisp distributor and genuine line breaker, Lienert-Brown also impressed with his strong defensive game, forming a formidable defensive wall with centre Seta Tamanivalu during the 2016 Super Rugby campaign.
Lienert-Brown was a member of the New Zealand Under-20 side in 2014 and 2015.
Hansen said he was disappointed to lose Williams but understood the risk of injury was always there with players going to the Olympics.
“It’s disappointing to lose a world class player and he plays in a position where we have already lost two world class players overseas. It’s an opportunity for someone else though. Looking at the positive side for Sonny, it gives him 6-9 months to give his body a break and he probably hasn’t had that for a long time,” Hansen said.
The All Blacks begin their Rugby Championship campaign against Australia in Sydney on August 20.