New Zealand Rugby
All Blacks dominance a boon for injured Carter
August 23, 2010

Daniel Carter has revealed the All Blacks' Tri-Nations success has allowed him to bring forward his ankle surgery.

In addition to sealing the southern hemisphere's biggest crown, New Zealand's 29-22 win over South Africa in Soweto on Saturday brought the added bonus of allowing their star fly-half to spend some much-needed time on the sidelines while only missing what will now be a dead rubber against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Had the Tri-Nations or the Bledisloe Cup still been on the line when the All Blacks visit ANZ Stadium on September 11, Carter would have played in the match and had the surgery after it, ruling himself out of at least part of New Zealand's northern hemisphere tour. Or he could have waited until after the November tour, meaning he would have missed the start of the Super 15 season.

Carter said he could have continued to manage the problematic ankle but that this was now the ideal time to get the surgery out of the way. He will have less disruptions in the lead up to the all-important World Cup on home soil next year.

"The timing is pretty good in that we've wrapped up the Tri-Nations and the Bledisloe [Cup] which is a fantastic feat for the team," he told reporters in Johannesburg. "The way we've been playing, and the timing, it's worked out really well.

"I miss one international game, all going well. Obviously the bigger picture is next year [World Cup] and I'm just concentrating on getting it done and doing the rehab and bouncing back from that."

Carter said he started feeling the injury near the end of the Super 14 and that it had dogged him through the international season, although it was well managed. He refused to use it as an excuse for any patchy form with the Crusaders or All Blacks. His goalkicking was awry in Soweto, missing four of his nine shots while his 72 percent ratio - 44 from 61 shots - through New Zealand's eight Tests was down on recent years.

"I never put lack of form or missing kicking opportunities like that down to something like my ankle," he said. "It's been manageable. If I thought it started to affect my performance I wouldn't have been playing."

Carter, whose 236 points against Australia is the most by any player against another team in Test history, would benefit from a break according to All Blacks coach Graham Henry.

"To continue playing with the discomfort he's had just epitomises the player," Henry said. "He's a total professional, does everything for the team and it's great he's got a wee bit of space to get this right because we've got a five match tour at the end of the year and he'll be a special part of that."


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