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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

All Blacks say Sonny Bill Williams a possible starter against Springboks

Two-time World Cup winner will have X-ray on injured shoulder on Monday to determine if he is fit to return to side 

Sonny Bill Williams, left, could make his return to the New Zealand team for the match against South Africa in Wellington. AFP

Sonny Bill Williams has been listed as a possible starter for New Zealand's next Rugby Championship assignment as the All Blacks injury toll from Saturday's win against Argentina continued to take its toll.

Williams has spent three months on the sidelines as he recovers from a shoulder injury, but the centre was one of three players called into the All Blacks squad by coach Steve Hansen following Saturday's hard-fought 46-24 win over Argentina in Nelson.

Hansen told reporters two-time World Cup winner will have an X-ray on his shoulder on Monday and if given the all clear will face South Africa in Wellington this weekend.

Williams, who missed the first two Tests against France in June following knee surgery, played 58 minutes of the third Test before injuring his shoulder and has been out of action ever since.

Concussion-prone Ryan Crotty was also declared fit to go, and lock Patrick Tuipulotu earned a recall on news that Brodie Retallick and Ngani Laumape would be out for several weeks after being injured in the match against the Pumas.

Retallick could be out for up to six weeks with a shoulder injury while Laumape, brought into the squad as injury cover, faces missing three weeks with a damaged knee.

Hansen declared Crotty and Sam Cane fit for duty with both players having recovered from head knocks suffered against Australia early in the Rugby Championship, while Rieko Ioane - recovering from a hamstring injury - and Williams were also in the frame for selection.

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Crotty and Cane could have played against Argentina "but we just chose to give them another week", Hansen said Sunday.

"Rieko will be available, so whilst we're losing a couple, we're getting a couple back on deck as well."

With back-up lock Luke Romano already down with a calf strain, Tuipulotu got his recall after last playing for the All Blacks in November last year.

The towering lock scored three tries in a provincial match over the weekend in what was his first game since injuring a shoulder in May.

The All Blacks' victory over Argentina kept them well in front in the Rugby Championship table, with 15 points from three bonus-point wins.

South Africa, Argentina and Australia have one win each, with South Africa second in the table courtesy of two bonus points.

Australia's Wallabies overcame a week of turmoil to edge South Africa 23-18 in Brisbane at the weekend, as they capitalised on a poor second half by the Springboks despite trailing 18-17 at half time.

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