Sports

All Blacks star Williams gets four-week ban for horror challenge

New Zealand rugby star Sonny Bill Williams will miss this Saturday's Test series decider against the British and Irish Lions after receiving a four-week ban.

Williams was given a 25th-minute red card by French referee Jerome Garces following a shoulder charge into Lions wing Anthony Watson's head at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

World Cup-winning centre Williams, who revealed he has apologised to Watson, was hit with a ban when he appeared before a three-man judicial panel in Wellington yesterday.

The verdict, which was announced by the New Zealand Rugby Union, means the All Blacks are without one of their most influential players as they target a series-clinching victory in Auckland.

Before the hearing outcome, the All Blacks had added centre Malakai Fekitoa to their squad.

After the hearing, Williams gave his reaction, which was posted in a series of tweets published on the All Blacks' official Twitter account.

DISAPPOINTED

The 31-year-old said he was "really disappointed, but happy with being able to get in there and say my piece".

He added: "They've come to the conclusion that it was reckless, it wasn't intentional. I've got in contact with Anthony, and I've apologised to him."

And, in a final tweet, Williams added: "...but very disappointed that I was sent from the field last night and let my brothers down."

The Lions' 24-21 win consigned New Zealand to a first defeat on home soil since 2009, ending a 46-match unbeaten run, while the All Blacks have not lost successive Tests for six years. - PA SPORT

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