WELLINGTON - Code-hopping rugby star Sonny Bill Williams looks set to be included in the All Blacks' end of year tour squad after being granted a special dispensation.
The 29-year-old, who will rejoin the 15-a-side game once his two-year rugby league deal with the Sydney Roosters is over, may not play a domestic rugby game before the tour squad is picked.
But the New Zealand Rugby board have granted him an exemption to be selected without having played in the national provincial championship.
NZ Rugby boss Steve Tew said the All Blacks' coaching staff will be permitted to select the World Cup-winner if they want him in the squad.
Williams has signed to play for Counties Manukau in the domestic competition, but the Roosters are assured of making the NRL finals, putting his availability in doubt.
It is possible his commitments in the 13-a-side code will prevent him from playing for the Tana Umaga-coached side, whose regular season winds up four days after the NRL grand final on October 5.
The All Blacks' end of season tour begins against the United States in Chicago on November 1 followed by Tests against England, Scotland and Wales over successive weekends.
Meanwhile All Blacks inside centre Ryan Crotty is expected to be sidelined for a month after suffering a facial fracture during his team's demolition of the Wallabies at Eden Park.
Crotty sat out the second half of Saturday night's 51-20 win after being injured in a heavy tackle.
The Crusaders midfielder impressed in his first start in his eighth Test for the All Blacks as a replacement for the injured Ma'a Nonu, who missed the match with an elbow problem.
Nonu is expected to be available for the All Blacks' next fixture, the round-three Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Napier in two weeks.