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Carter on the comeback trail

Sun, 16 Sep 2012 08:32
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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is confident that Dan Carter will be fit to travel to Argentina, where they will look to wrap up the Rugby Championship.

A calf injury has kept the world's most prolific points scorer out of the last two matches, against Argentina and South Africa, but Hansen said that Carter was in contention for the clash with the Pumas.

"It's too early to say yes or no at this point, but we're hoping he will be (able to play). He's reasonably confident so that's a good sign," Hansen said.

The All Blacks' 21-11 win over the Springboks on Saturday kept them unbeaten after four rounds and they will take home the championship title with a game to spare if they beat Argentina on September 30.

Even if Carter has not been cleared by medical staff by the time the team departs next Saturday, Hansen indicated it was possible he would still be taken, with Beauden Barrett added as a flyhalf along with Aaron Cruden.

"We're only allowed to take 28 but there's ways and means on getting him on the plane in the 28," he said, adding Barrett could be included at the expense of either a prop or loose forward.

Although the All Blacks have proved they can win without Carter - they have won their last 14 matches and Carter has missed eight of them including the World Cup final last year - they have missed him on the field.

Current flyhalf Cruden has yet to develop Carter's unflustered ability to navigate the side around the field, but Hansen said the understudy "got some great, valuable learning and will grow" from the match against the Springboks.

Apart from Carter, Hansen said there were no other injury concerns.

AFP

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