I don't think we need to be too keen on getting rid of him
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has dismissed suggestions of injured flyhalf Dan Carter moving his planned rugby sabbatical forward.
The 31-year-old, the highest points scorer in international rugby, suffered a calf injury at training that will see him sidelined for up to four weeks with Aaron Cruden set to replace him at No.10 for the upcoming Rugby Championship Tests against the Wallabies in Sydney and Wellington, while he may also be in doubt for Tests against Argentina and South Africa.
Carter confirmed last week that he will take a six-month sabbatical from rugby next year in a bid to extend his playing career to the 2015 World Cup, but Hansen was clear that his latest injury is not serious enough to consider moving that break forward.
"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.
"It sounds dramatic because he's been there before, I guess, and because it's three-four weeks. It just reiterates why he needs to have this extended break. So he can go away and get all the niggles dead right."
He said New Zealand had a world-class replacement in Cruden, who has 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."
A major reason for Carter's planned break was a string of niggling injuries, which sidelined him during the All Blacks' 2011 World Cup campaign and prevented him playing the first two Tests of this year's home series against France.
However, the flyhalf described this latest setback as more of a disappointment than anything else.
"It's a bit frustrating, especially when the body feels good and then you have a wee setback like this," Carter said.
"So it's always frustrating but, the thing is, I've had injuries like this before so I know what I have to do to get back playing and play as well as I know I can," he said.