New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew has opened the door for a recall for Sonny Bill Williams to the All Blacks.
The Chiefs midfielder has announced he is off to Japan later in the year before returning to the NRL in 2013.
The NZRU and All Blacks coaches have previously said they wouldn't consider him for selection for the Rugby Championship because of his impending departure.
But as Conrad Smith has been ruled out of the next three tests because of an eye injury and Richard Kahui is still six months away from playing again, the All Blacks have been left short on depth in the midfield.
It would be a big call to select a player who is about to cut ties with New Zealand rugby, but Tew said last night the coaches are able to select him.
“He is not definitely unavailable,” Tew said.
“There is a significant selection meeting this weekend after we know one more team is out of the knockout, so I wouldn't rule it out, because he is still eligible and contracted to New Zealand, but that's a matter for the selectors.
“I guess if the selectors want him then the conversation will be if he has got time to play in the competition before he goes up to Japan.”
The NZRU held a board meeting in Wellington yesterday and in it Tew gave an update on its financial situation, saying it was on track to deliver a break-even result for the year.
Tew also rubbished reports that the NZRU is about to secure a new jersey sponsor for the All Blacks.
“We weren't recommending to the board that there would be a sponsor on the front of the All Blacks jersey, nor had a visit from a senior adidas official last month to tell us we couldn't do one,” he said.
Tew said work was still progressing on the possible leasing agreement for all of the Super Rugby franchises aside from the Highlanders. He also said there was no appetite from the NZRU to change the Super Rugby conference system, which has been criticised recently as the Reds were able to have a home playoff against the Sharks, despite having fewer competition points.
“This is year two of a five-year commitment to the current structure . . . we will conduct a comprehensive review of the way the competition has worked and certainly the information we've got from South Africa and Australia is consistent with where we're at."
- Fairfax Media
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