Hansen brushes off setback
Flyhalf Dan Carter will miss New Zealand's first two Rugby Championship Tests against Australia and could be sidelined for up to four weeks with a calf strain.
All Black coach Steve Hansen confirmed Tuesday that Carter will miss Saturday's opening match against the Wallabies in Sydney, as well as the return encounter at Wellington the following week.
He said Carter felt tightness in a calf muscle after a warm up match last Friday and the injury became more serious after a training session on Monday.
Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden is now likely to start Saturday's Test in Carter's absence, with Beauden Barrett coming off the bench.
Hansen was matter of fact about the situation.
"It's not a big deal for me," the All Black coach said.
"It's disappointing for Dan and disappointing for all of us, I guess. But that's the nature of the beast, isn't it?
"Rugby's a contact sport and people get injured."
The 31-year-old, the highest points scorer in international rugby, said he was disappointed at the injury, which will see Aaron Cruden replace him at number 10.
Coach Steve Hansen was confident Carter would return to help the All Blacks defend the Championship, dismissing suggestions his star playmaker could bring forward the sabbatical.
"I don't think we need to be too keen on getting rid of him. We'll see how he goes over this period," he said.
"The scans show it's not a biggie, it's something that's a nuisance more than anything else."
He said New Zealand had a world-class replacement in Cruden, who had just won back-to-back Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs.
"He's ready to rumble," Hansen said.
"He's also played a couple of Tests this year and understands what we're trying to do. He's part of the leadership group so it's business as usual."
Beauden Barrett is expected to be named on the bench as Cruden's back-up for Saturday's match.
Sources: AP & AFP