Wellington - Star centre Sonny Bill Williams will miss the
All Blacks' upcoming Test series against France after undergoing keyhole
surgery for a knee injury, New Zealand Rugby said on Friday.
NZR said a previous injury had flared up and medics at
Williams' Blues Super Rugby club estimated he would be sidelined for
"Williams aggravated an old knee injury this week and
Blues medical staff said an x-ray yesterday showed a loose piece of bone in his
knee joint," they said.
The 32-year-old was scheduled for a keyhole operation in
Auckland on Friday.
Rugby league convert Williams has played 46 Tests for the
All Blacks, including successful World Cup campaigns in 2011 and 2015.
An influential but sometimes erratic player, his sending off
in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions last year was a pivotal
moment in the series, which ended drawn at 1-1.
The world champion All Blacks are already without captain
Kieran Read for the France series after he had back surgery during the
Lock Patrick Tuipulotu (shoulder) and hooker Dane Coles
(knee) will also miss the series.
France play New Zealand on June 9 in Auckland, a week later
in Wellington and then on June 23 in Dunedin.
Les Bleus also have a long list of players missing or
injured, with coach Jacques Brunel opting to rest captain and hooker Guilhem
Lionel Beauxis, Yacouba Camara, Baptiste Couilloud, Brice
Dulin, Yoann Huget, Arthur Iturria, Paul Jedrasiak, Maxime Machenaud, Geoffrey
Palis, Marco Tauleigne and Francois Trinh-Duc are all on the injury list.
Others, including Louis Picamoles and Virimi Vakatawa, have
scheduled operations and are also ruled out, while Camille Lopez is still
recovering from injury and Jefferson Poirot and Sebastien Vahaamahina are