Much-anticipated battle with the Kangaroos will have to wait after convert was left out.
Sonny Bill Williams’ anticipated return to the rugby league Test arena was put on hold Sunday when a knee injury ruled him out of the New Zealand squad for their upcoming clash with Australia.
The powerful second rower last played league for New Zealand five years ago before switching to rival code union and even dabbling in boxing, beating South African veteran Francois Botha in February.
He was ruled out by medical staff at his Sydney Roosters club after their 38-0 win over the Bulldogs on Friday.
“Unfortunately been ruled out by the club, hopefully not that serious,” Williams, 27, tweeted shortly before the New Zealand team was announced.
Simon Mannering was named captain for the first time in the 19-man squad for the Test against Australia in Canberra next Friday.
Mannering, with 30 Tests behind him, is the most experienced player in the squad which also also includes 19-year-old Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Tuivasa-Sheck, who played for the Junior Kiwis last year, has impressed coach Stephen Kearney with the way he has stepped up to senior ranks playing with Williams at the Roosters.
“Roger has been on our radar for a while. He’s a Kiwi with a very bright future,” Kearney said in announcing the team.
Five players who missed the last Test between the two countries, won by Australia 18-10 in Townsville last October, have been recalled — Alex Glenn, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jason Nightingale, Jeremy Smith and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
There is, however, a question mark over Smith who faces charges from his Newcastle Knights match at the weekend.
Squad: Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles), Alex Glenn, (Brisbane Broncos), Josh Hoffman (Broncos), Shaun Johnson (Warriors), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (captain, Warriors), Ben Matulino (Warriors), Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Sam Perrett (Canterbury Bulldogs), Frank Pritchard (Bulldogs), Kevin Proctor (Melbourne Storm), Jeremy Smith (Newcastle Knights), Elijah Taylor (Warriors), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Roosters), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters), Dean Whare (Panthers).