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AllBlacks begin preparations for Argentina

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James Mortimer     28 Aug 2012     Getty Images

Williams will link up with Panasonic later this week, will depart with 19 tests under his belt, but his absence won’t be terminal for the All Blacks.

While Sonny Bill has been used by the All Blacks in a similar fashion the Chiefs utilised the powerful centre, the adjustment and loss of the star will be offset by the fact that his international sparring partner at second five-eighth – Ma’a Nonu – will likely slot back to 12.

And while a player generally regarded as the former second five-eighth departs, the man arguably tagged as the best centre in the game will return in Wellington.

Conrad Smith will line up against Argentina as coach Steve Hansen has said that the veteran has recovered sufficiently from his eye injury.

Smith, unlike Julian Savea and Victor Vito, hasn’t been released to Wellington, with Hansen confident that the Hurricanes captain will be able to slot straight back into the team.

He has been maintaining his fitness during training session with the team.

"The timetable is such that his (Smith’s) first game available will be for us,” Hansen said.

“We're confident in his fitness. He's proven before he can come straight back in and do the job, so that's what we'll be doing."

Prop Tony Woodcock will also return, having recovered from his rib injury.

Lock Luke Romano will continue to be monitored with a minor shoulder injury.

Ten All Blacks have been released for their ITM Cup sides, while the remainder of the squad has disassembled, and will get back together in the capital later this week to prepare for the arrival of the Pumas.