Air New Zealand Cup
All Blacks muted on Carter recall
August 1, 2009

The All Blacks have been muted over a potential return for fly-half Dan Carter following their Tri-Nations defeat to South Africa.

Carter made his competitive return in Canterbury's 22-19 Air New Zealand Cup defeat to North Harbour on Saturday, playing 65 minutes as Harbour fly-half Mike Harris stole the game away from the defending champions with a last-gasp penalty. Two weeks ago he played a full 80 minutes for club side Southbridge.

Carter's comeback will no doubt have provided food-for-thought for Graham Henry and the All Black selectors, who saw their fly-half Stephen Donald battered into submission by a fired up Springbok side at Kings Park.

"We'll watch NPC rugby and see how things are going. We might need a couple of replacements through injury," Henry said. "There'll be no panic. We'll have a look, as we always do. Daniel is obviously one of the players we'll look at."

One person who has no problem with returning to the fold is Carter himself, the fly-half reporting no problems after his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury picked up during an ill-fated sabbatical with French champions Perpignan.

"I'd definitely say yes. I wouldn't turn down the black jersey but the most important thing for me is getting to the form where I'm capable of playing international rugby. It's a big step up from this level," he said. "I'm keen to get back amongst the All Blacks but obviously it's a tough road. If I have three of four games under my belt I'll talk with the AB guys.

"I'm really happy with my tendon. I've had two games now and haven't needed to think about it. That's been a real positive, it feels strong. My fitness has really improved. I guess I could use a little explosiveness, but the spring in my step will come over the next month or two."

Carter's next outing will come next weekend, when Canterbury take on struggling Auckland. The All Blacks are not in action until August 22, when they travel to take on Australia in Sydney.


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