All Black star Sonny Bill is ruled out of Ireland clashes
New Zealand superstar Sonny Bill Williams will miss the two Tests against Ireland this autumn after suffering a partial tear of his Achilles tendon while on Olympic Sevens duty.
The main attraction of rugby's return to the Games was injured during the All Blacks' first game in Rio, a shock defeat to Japan on Tuesday.
And Steve Tew, the New Zealand Rugby CEO, confirmed yesterday that the code-hopping centre will be absent for between six and nine months.
Having lost both Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith to international retirement since winning the World Cup less than a year ago, this latest blow further complicates the midfield plans for Ireland's next opponents.
Joe Schmidt's men, who have never beaten New Zealand despite coming within seconds of doing so when they last met in 2013, will take on the world's number one side twice in November, once in a historic Chicago meeting and then in Dublin.
With the Rugby Championship set to begin in less than two weeks, Steve Hansen must quickly identify a replacement to join Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa and George Moala as the midfield options in his squad.