WELLINGTON (AFP) - 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 Friday (June 1).
NZR said a previous injury had flared up and medics at Williams' Auckland Blues Super Rugby club estimated he would be sidelined for four weeks.
"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 off-season.
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 Guirado.
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 suspended.