SBW available for Rugby Championship opener

Sonny Bill Williams will have served his red card ban and be eligible to face Australia in New Zealand's Rugby Championship opener next month.

That was the word from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who said the centre's four-match suspension for a shoulder charge on British and Irish Lions wing Anthony Watson would have expired by then.

Williams became the first All Black in 50 years to be sent off after his challenge to Watson's head during the second Test between the All Blacks in Lions, on July 1.

The 31-year-old cross-code star has already missed the third Lions Test as well as the Blues shock loss to the Sunwolves in Tokyo last weekend.

Williams plays his provincial rugby with Counties Manukau and two of their pre-season fixtures will also be included as part of his suspension.

Hansen said it meant Williams would be available when the All Blacks and Wallabies clash in Sydney on August 19.

"Yep, he'll be considered," Hansen told New Zealand's Radio Sport.

Hansen would not confirm reports out of France that another All Blacks centre, Malakai Fekitoa, has signed with Top 14 outfit Toulon.

"He's making a decision based on what's right for him," he said.

"Like all of the guys that go overseas, we don't want him to go but if he goes we'll support him."

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