Sonny Bill Williams of New Zealand steps through a tackle by Sean McMahon of Australia.
Sonny Bill Williams of New Zealand steps through a tackle by Sean McMahon of Australia. DEAN LEWINS

SBW cleared for second Test after head knock

SONNY Bill Williams will line up for the All Blacks in the second Test against Australia after being cleared of any after-effects from a head knock in Sydney.

The All Blacks made three changes to their side for the return clash against the Wallabies in Dunedin on Saturday, with Dane Coles returning at starting hooker and Kane Hames and Scott Barrett both joining the bench.

But it was the players who retained their spots that were more noteworthy, with Damien McKenzie kept at fullback, Aaron Smith picked again at halfback and Williams named at No.12.

All Blacks medical staff cleared SBW after the big centre appeared to suffer concussion early in the Sydney clash.

Footage clearly showed Williams wobbled on his feet but wasn't taken from the field for a head injury assessment.

SANZAAR launched an investigation into why his head knock wasn't spotted.

The All Blacks' caution with concussion has forced Coles out of action for some time, however. He returns for his first starting Test for the All Blacks in nine months, having missed a large part of Super Rugby with lingering symptoms of concussion.

In his last game before taking a sabbatical, Ben Smith was considered a chance to move from the wing back to No.15 on his home turf but McKenzie was retained at custodian.

Aaron Smith remains in Steve Hansen's good books too, despite revelations of the No.9 being dishonest with the coach last year.

"It's been great to be back home in New Zealand and we've had a great week's preparation here in Dunedin," Hansen said.

"Whilst we were very happy with the way we played for periods of the game in the first Test, there were also moments where we weren't so crash hot.

"However, this is a new week and we're well aware that we'll have to be better in all areas of our game, and we've concentrated on those areas we want to improve. Once again, a good start will be important."

New Zealand: 1 Joe Moody 2 Dane Coles 3 Owen Franks 4 Brodie Retallick 5 Samuel Whitelock 6 Liam Squire 7 Sam Cane 8 Kieran Read (c) 9 Aaron Smith 10 Beauden Barrett 11 Rieko Ioane 12 Sonny Bill Williams 13 Ryan Crotty 14 Ben Smith 15 Damian McKenzie. Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor 17 Kane Hames 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi 19 Scott Barrett 20 Ardie Savea 21 TJ Perenara 22 Lima Sopoaga 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

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