Dan Carter available for Crusaders for Saturdays Super 15 game

Dan Carter’s return to Super Rugby is unlikely to be in the No 10 jersey.

Although Crusaders assistant coach Tabai Matson and Carter were not saying as much today, it is expected the 100-test All Black, who has totalled only 120 minutes for his Southbridge club since embarking on his sabbatical last November, will be considered as an option for the reserves bench for Saturday night’s match against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Colin Slade, who was a member of the All Blacks squad for the recent series against England, is tipped to start at first five-eighth in the Cake Tin as the Crusaders look to consolidate their position at the head of the New Zealand conference.

‘‘I’m available for selection so I will leave that up to the coaches to decide,’’ was all Carter would say on whether he would be start.

‘‘I am excited and keen to be part of it.’’

Although he has made it clear he prefers playing at first-fiv,e Carter can also operate at second-five, something he did last year. But risking him in the run-on side after such little match-play isn’t likely.

Matson described Carter’s return as ‘‘modified’’ since joining the Crusaders for their trainings a fortnight ago.

‘‘It’s great to have him back and available to play, that is probably the key thing,’’ Matson said.

‘‘Sladie is playing really well and that is probably the talking point. What do we do with our last Crusaders’ performance – the team was really settled and playing well.’’

Despite Carter’s pedigree, the Crusaders coaches have several reasons to not rush him back into action.

Slade, who has been the incumbent first-five since their fourth match against the Rebels on March 14, has been instrumental in the side’s surge to third overall on the competition log. His goal kicking has been outstanding and he has enabled the side to adjust to the tactical changes made for several key fixtures during the season.

Bringing Carter back would also mean making another change to a backline already without powerful wing Nemani Nadolo, who is still on international duties for Fiji this weekend.

All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg, who missed the last two tests because of his patella tendon problems, may also be rested from the Hurricanes match.

That will mean Tom Taylor, who started at centre in the last match against the Western Force, is likely to be shifted to fullback. Kieron Fonotia may start at centre, with Ryan Crotty at second-five. Nafi Tuitavake is the leading candidate to start on the left wing in the absence of Nadolo.

The Crusaders may also be forced to bring young lock Scott Barrett, the younger brother of All Blacks playmaker Beauden, into the squad if Jimmy Tupou continues to have post-concussion symptoms after suffering a head knock against England last Tuesday.

Kieran Read, who played the first half of the All Blacks’ third test against England in Hamilton last weekend, hasn’t been bothered by any concussion symptoms after being forced to miss the first two tests.

‘‘We still be really well aware of his past experience (with concussion) before we throw him into the mix,’’ Matson said.

Read will be closely monitored before the team is named on Thursday.

Loose forward George Whitelock has recovered from the head knock that forced him from the England game in Christchurch.

– Stuff

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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