New Zealand v Wales, Hamilton, June 26
Carter and Jones in doubt for rematch
June 21, 2010
Dan Carter is in doubt for the All Blacks' meeting with Wales on Saturday © Getty Images
Dan Carter is a doubt for New Zealand's return match against Wales in Hamilton on Saturday with a tight calf.
The fly-half, who scored two tries in a 27-point haul in the 42-9 first Test blitz, was withdrawn from the game late on with a tight calf. The All Blacks will name their side for the weekend on Tuesday but are unlikely to take a call on their playmaker until later in the week.
"He'll have to have a couple of days of modified training," assistant coach Wayne Smith said. "We probably won't be able to make a decision until Thursday on him given the nature of the tightening of the calf. It's not actually a calf pull or anything like that, it's just a tightening. But we've got to make sure it's right. We'll play him if he's right. If he's not right we won't play him."
Wales are also sweating the fitness of their fly-half, Stephen Jones, who has a thumb problem, meaning that the focus could fall on two youngsters at Waikato Stadium. Scans have revealed no broken bones for Jones but soft tissue damage may keep him out.
Carter's back-up is former New Zealand Under-20s skipper Aaron Cruden while Wales will turn to the Ospreys' Dan Biggar. Carter's limited involvement will also ensure Cruden gets an extended run with the team in training this week.
"We've brought Aaron in to develop him and he's shown he can just step into a Test match and play, which is promising," Smith said. "It's actually a good thing giving him a bit more time steering the ship. He hasn't got any problem with that," Smith added.
"He's very composed and he's got the right personality to be ordering people around. But it will be good for him to be in there and have to do that for a few days."
The All Blacks will almost certainly be without fullback Israel Dagg, who has concussion, and lock Anthony Boric, who has a fractured cheekbone. Wales are missing centre Andrew Bishop, who has broken his hand. All Blacks coach Graham Henry is unlikely to take any risks.
"They'll both struggle to play next week, particularly Israel," he said. "He's not very well and you need time after those head knocks to make sure you're right. We wouldn't risk him," Henry said. "Anthony has got a little stress fracture in his cheekbone and he could probably play but I wonder whether it's worth that risk. Before I talk to the medical staff and talk to him we won't know for sure."