AVIGNON, France - Rugby league's hottest property Sonny Bill Williams will sit out defending champions New Zealand's second World Cup pool game against France on Friday after picking up some "bumps and bruises" in the opening victory over Samoa.
Coach Stephen Kearney said Williams would have been fit to play in Avignon's Parc des Sports, but his idea had always been to give all of his 24-man squad a run out.
"He would've been right to play on Friday," said Kearney.
"But I wanted to give Alex Glenn an opportunity and also get some more time into Frank Pritchard."
Williams, who left league in 2008 to join Top 14 rugby union club Toulon and went on to help the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup on home soil in 2011, had a mixed game in the 42-24 win over Samoa in Warrington on Sunday.
Defensively sound, he produced a couple of vital trademark offloads, but also came up with the blooper of the tournament so far when he skidded past the dead ball line when he went to touch down a try.
His absence will be a blow to fans of the code-swapping back-rower, but organisers have nonetheless got themselves a 17,000 sell-out for Friday's game against a France team that beat Papua New Guinea 9-8 in their opener.
Another absentee will be ex-Wigan stalwart Thomas Leuluai, who is still struggling with a groin complaint and won't be risked, meaning only he of the 24-man squad will not get game time in the opening two matches.
Team: Kevin Locke, Jason Nightingale, Bryson Goodwin, Krisnan Inu, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Ben Matulino, Issac Luke, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank Pritchard, Alex Glenn, Simon Mannering. Interchange: Elijah Taylor, Sam Kasiano, Frank-Paul Nu'uausala, Greg Eastwood, Jesse Bromwich, Josh Hoffman. (Two to be omitted)