Sonny Bill appeals World Rugby's decision
REACTION: New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams has appealed World Rugby's decision to include this year's first Bledisloe Cup match as part of his four-match ban.
Williams was handed a four-match ban after being red-carded in the second Test loss to the British and Irish Lions, becoming the first All Black to be sent off in 50 years.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said earlier this month that he was confident the centre would be available to face Australia in Sydney on August 19.
But the World Rugby Judiciary panel made up of three Australians, which included former Wallabies David Croft and John Langford, disagreed, rejecting New Zealand's bid to include a Counties Manukau trial match as part of Williams' ban.
It said when rugby authorities imposed a ban the matches involved must have "a meaningful consequence for the player"
.It accepted Williams had missed three meaningful fixtures and said the next one he was due to play in was the Test between New Zealand and Australia.
"Accordingly, the player is suspended from all forms of rugby up to and including August 19, 2017," it said in a judgement released Friday.
"The player is free to resume playing on August 20."
New Zealand Rugby on Friday confirmed Williams' appeal.
"New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that Sonny Bill Williams has appealed the World Rugby Judicial Committee’s decision not to include the All Blacks match on 11 August in the four-week suspension given to Williams following a hearing into the red card he received in the second Test against the touring British & Irish Lions.
"As the matter will now be decided by an Appeal Committee, no further comment will be made at this time," said a NZ Rugby statement.
Sources: NZ Rugby, AFP & NZ Herald