All Black Sonny Bill Williams is on the plane for Buenos Aires despite a hamstring that may not allow him to play Argentina next weekend but the news is far more positive for teammates Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor, who are in line for test debuts.

Definitely out, as planned, are the senior Crusaders who played in last Saturday's Super Rugby final win over the Jaguares in Christchurch, plus Highlanders loose forward Shannon Frizell, who has a cut knee.

Apart from outside backs Reece and Ennor, George Bridge, another wing, is the only other Crusaders player in the squad.

Coach Steve Hansen today also confirmed that Sam Cane will captain the team in Kieran Read's absence at Jose Amalfitani Stadium, with Ben Smith vice captain.


The All Blacks squad are scheduled to leave tonight for next Sunday morning's test, with Hansen happy about midfielder Williams' fitness.

Veteran midfielder Sonny Bill Williams will be given chance to play Pumas despite recent hamstring issue. Photo / Photosport
Veteran midfielder Sonny Bill Williams will be given chance to play Pumas despite recent hamstring issue. Photo / Photosport

The 33-year-old has had a tight hamstring after playing for the Ponsonby club recently, but is a possibility to play.

"He's a shot to play, but we're not going to risk him," Hansen said. "As much as we want him to play and he needs game time, if he's not 100 per cent there's no point in putting him out there and him re-injuring it.

"We'll make the decision late next week. He's training really well and making really good progress. If he doesn't make the team for Argentina I'm pretty sure he'll be available for [South Africa in] Wellington [the following weekend]."

There is a genuine excitement within the All Blacks as they begin their World Cup build-up proper, and Hansen will be pleased that first-five Barrett has finally announced his plans – a re-commitment to New Zealand Rugby for four years, which includes a shift to the Blues.

He is also pleased at the progress shown by his players. "We've had two bites of the cherry … we've had two weeks with the other group and then seeing where the Crusaders are [at] – I'm really excited at where we are heading, as are the players actually," Hansen said. There's a bit of excitement about the game we want to play and the stuff we're doing.

"Having said all of that, it's the first game of the season and we're bringing five franchises together and five different ways of playing and now we're trying to play an All Black way, for want of a better term. That takes a bit of time. We're always a bit rusty for the first two or three games of the season and we haven't had a June window."

All Blacks squad for Argentina and first test on July 21:
Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Cane (c), Vaea Fifita, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith,
Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Josh Ioane, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith (vc).