Carter injured again before Wellington test
Thu, 06 Sep 2012 6:40p.m.
By Jim Kayes
Dan Carter's Wellington curse continues.
It’s almost a year since the All Blacks first-five's World Cup dream ended when he tore his groin in the capital, and now he's injured again.
Carter's had a sore calf all week and coach Steve Hansen says the All Blacks first-five decided at a private training this morning it wasn't good enough for his 90th test.
“He wasn't comfortable and when you're not comfortable it's a pretty easy decision isn't it, especially when you've got talent like we've got to back him up,” says Hansen.
That's Aaron Cruden, who filled in superbly when Carter was injured for the third Ireland test.
“He's in good form, he's got a lot of confidence, the guys have got a lot of confidence in him,” says Hansen.
“We've anticipated it could have happened he's been a bit tight all week so Cruds has done a lot of training in there and we've been lucky we've had Beauden all week.”
He's playing outside a pack that's welcomed back veteran prop Tony Woodcock, while senior lock Sam Whitelock has been dropped for the five-times capped Brodie Retallick.
“I think Brodie's playing better than Sam at the moment,” says Hansen.
The significance of Whitelock's demotion was not lost on the senior players.
“Definitely shows that you've got to be out there looking to improve and getting better and putting your performances on the track. Good wake up call,” says number eight Kieran Read.
Hansen says Liam Messam's shift to the bench was more for a rest than on form, but Victor Vito knows the blindside is wide open.
“Liam's set a really good bar with the physicality along with all the other loosies as well. I really don't want to be the one who is left behind there. If anything I want to take the yardstick out a bit further,” the flanker says.
Further out, Hansen says Hosea Gear has played well on the wing but Julian Savea's the future.
“He's young, he's got size, he's got pace and he's got great skills, it's about him now putting that on the track, believing in himself and delivering.”
He'll play outside Hurricanes teammate Conrad Smith at centre whose return from an eye injury is being hailed by some as the cure for the All Blacks’ attacking jitters.
“I'll certainly do my bit and help where I can,” says Smith.
“If I see something I’ll try and help the other guys. I think it's something we've all taken on board and talked about as a team.”
A team that's now missing its world-class general, but has a pretty handy back up.
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