Although he trained with the side on Wednesday, Williams won’t be available for the Blues’ must-win game against the Bulls at Eden Park on Saturday, but head coach Leon MacDonald is eyeing up a return for his squad’s vice-captain next week when they face the Reds in Brisbane.
“We’re trying to build his load back up, you can’t go from minimal to a lot very quickly, especially when you come back from an injury like that,” MacDonald said.
“So this week his load has increased to what would be a typical game week and if he can tolerate that, then he’ll be good to go next week.”
With Williams’ name absent from the Blues’ team sheet for this weekend’s clash, the 33-year-old may ave played his last home game for the franchise, as he is coming off-contract at the end of this season, while the Blues only have away games against the Reds and Hurricanes following their encounter with the Bulls.
Many are expecting Williams to either take up a contract with an overseas club, return to rugby league, resume his stagnant professional boxing career, or retire as an athlete entirely as he reaches the twilight of his career.
The Blues, meanwhile, are in desperate need of victory against the Bulls, with anything less than that likely spelling the end of their faint play-off hopes.
Sitting in 13th spot with 26 points, the Blues are four points shy of the top eight, and will need to win all of their remaining matches to stay within touching distance of a play-offs spot, let alone actually qualify for a quarter-final.
While a place in the post-season is out of his side’s control, MacDonald is hopeful his side can deliver the results needed to challenge for a qualifying berth.
“It’s important for us to get back [to winning],” he said.
“We had a good performance here a couple of weeks ago against the Chiefs, but we didn’t put in a performance down south [against the Crusaders].
“It was pretty wet, it wasn’t a rainy day, but it was pretty dewy and a cold night. So I’m looking forward to being at home again.
“We understand the importance of the game and the consequences if we don’t get a result.
“This week we’ve been talking about learning to win the games when the pressure is on.
“This is a big chance for our leadership group to take over and prepare like it’s a final.”
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