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Chiefs youngster gets the nod to replace SBW for All Blacks

Chiefs youngster gets the nod to replace SBW for All Blacks

Steve Hansen has backed uncapped Anton Lienert-Brown to shine if called upon, underlining his versatility after he was drafted into the All Blacks squad to replace the injured Sonny Bill Williams.

"If you look at the positive side for Sonny it gives him now six or seven months where his body gets a break."

Steve Hansen has backed uncapped Anton Lienert-Brown to shine if called upon, underlining his versatility after he was drafted into the All Blacks squad to replace the injured Sonny Bill Williams.

The Chiefs centre is just 21, but his ability to play both positions in midfield saw him preferred to provincial teammate Seta Tamanivalu to replace Williams, who ruptured his Achilles on the opening day of Sevens at the Olympics in Rio.

And New Zealand coach Hansen is confident he will step up if required during the Rugby Championship.

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Hansen said: “We had a replacement organised anyway for the first week in Anton Lienert-Brown, so he’ll just take over the full-time role.

“The reason we’ve gone with Anton over anyone else is that he can cover second five and centre and gives us better options than anyone else.”

Williams is set for an extended spell on the sidelines, a minimum of six months, but Hansen feels it could be beneficial in the long run, particularly with The British & Irish Lions heading to New Zealand next summer.

He added: “If you look at the positive side for Sonny it gives him now six or seven months where his body gets a break – he probably hasn't had that for a long time – because he's such a good athlete right across the field.

“He does so many different things so eight or nine months off probably won't hurt him. It might frustrate him, but it won't hurt him.”

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