Super 14
Henry offers lifeline to Williams
January 30, 2010
Blues lock Ali Williams receives treatment for an injury, Blues v Chiefs, Super 14 Pre-season match, North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand, January 29, 2010
Williams receives treatment after suffering a fresh injury blow in his comeback game © Getty Images

All Blacks coach Graham Henry has handed Ali Williams a Rugby World Cup lifeline after the Blues lock suffered a cruel injury blow in his first outing following a lengthy lay-off.

The 28-year-old lasted just four minutes of his side's pre-season victory over the Chiefs at North Harbour Stadium after rupturing the same Achilles tendon that required surgery last year. The injury first struck 10 months ago and was originally treated with rest and rehabilitation but he aggravated the tendon during All Blacks training later in the year and was forced to undergo surgery in July.

"I knew what it was as soon as it happened. As you'd expect I'm absolutely gutted," admitted Williams after his latest setback which is set to rule him out of action for at least six months but maybe as long as a year.

Williams, capped 61 times by the All Blacks, will undergo surgery early next week but Henry has offered him hope ahead of what will be a battle to prove his fitness ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

"He's distraught about it," Henry told the New Zealand Herald. "It's devastating for him, but he's a positive guy and he's already talking about having another crack at it. He's a world-class player and you can't keep class down. The big thing is he gets this right. I feel so sorry for him but he's so positive. He'll be back. There's no real logic for why it keeps happening."

Williams' injury adds to Henry's second row concerns after returning lock Chris Jack suffered a wrist injury that will sideline him for the start of the Crusaders' Super 14 season. But Henry refused to speculate on the likely make-up of his side with Brad Thorn, Tom Donnelly, Isaac Ross, Anthony Boric and Jason Eaton amongst those vying for a starting berth. "At the moment it's all about Ali," added Henry.

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