* Read almost back to best after Super Rugby final
* Coles still to return from knee surgery
* Williams still recovering from shoulder injury (Adds details, quotes)
WELLINGTON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Captain Kieran Read and Dane Coles have been recalled to the All Blacks squad for the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship, while Sonny Bill Williams has also been included despite being injured.
Read only returned to the field following back surgery last year after the June test series against France but was almost back to his best in the Canterbury Crusaders’ Super Rugby final against the Lions on Saturday.
Coles is yet to make his comeback following knee surgery, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said last week he would be in the squad even though he would probably not be available until the end of the Rugby Championship, which starts on Aug. 18 against the Wallabies in Sydney.
Hooker Liam Coltman and midfield back Ngani Laumape were named in the squad released on Monday as injury cover for Coles and Williams, who has a shoulder injury and is likely to miss the first two games.
The rest of the squad was largely predictable, with all of the players named part of a training camp last week in Christchurch.
None of the Crusaders were involved in the camp as they prepared for the Super Rugby final against the Lions.
“The selectors found this an incredibly difficult squad to select,” Hansen said in a statement. “Whilst we congratulate those who’ve been named in the Rugby Championship team, we also commiserate with those who’ve missed out.
“It has to be noted that there are some very good players who have not made the squad.
“However, as we’ve seen in previous campaigns, a number of these players will get an opportunity through injury, just like Liam and Ngani already.”
Rugby Championship squad:
Forwards - Dane Coles*, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Joe Moody, Owen Franks, Tim Perry, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Shannon Frizell, Jackson Hemopo, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Luke Whitelock, Kieran Read.
Backs - TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams*, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith.
* currently injured
# Ngani Laumape and Liam Coltman will join the squad as injury cover for Williams and Coles
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Ransom