All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams available for Rugby Championship opener after winning red card appeal
New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams will be available for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship opener against Australia on August 19.
Williams was sent off by French referee Jerome Garces during New Zealand's second Test defeat against the British and Irish Lions in Wellington last month.
He received a four-week ban following the red card for a dangerous charge into the head of Lions wing Anthony Watson.
Centre Williams, though, appealed against the matches that counted towards his suspension.
And an appeal panel, independent of World Rugby, ruled this week that a game on August 11 when New Zealand face Counties Manukau and Taranaki, playing 40 minutes against each team, complies with regulations constituting a match.
"A game being played by New Zealand against Counties Manukau and Taranaki on 11 August that had been excluded from the suspension by the original disciplinary committee, has now been deemed to comply with the regulations' definition of a 'match'," read a statement issued on behalf of World Rugby.
"And, as such, that match will be included as part of the player's suspension. Accordingly, Williams is suspended from all forms of rugby up to and including 11 August."
New Zealand face the Wallabies in Sydney, with Garces the match referee.