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Teetotaling Carter good to go

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:13
Dan-carter-h_s

All Black superstar Dan Carter is a key player in the Crusaders' drive to avenge their loss to the Sharks earlier this season.

The Crusaders host the Sharks in the first of the weekend's Super Rugby semifinals - a re-run of their Round 14 league encounter when the hosts went down 25-30 to the visitors, despite the Sharks being reduced to 13 players at a crucial stage in the second half.

Crusaders scrumhalf Andy Ellis believes their star playmaker, Carter, will have a huge role to play Saturday.

Carter, who is expected to once again start at inside centre to allow Colin Slade to continue at flyhalf, has impressed since returning from his sabbatical last month and seems to be rejuvenated by his break.

"It's the most I have seen him [excited]," Ellis told Fairfax Media.

"He's not drinking and we know DC loves a beer.

"He's in the pool after every session, stretching, he's in the gym first thing. It's just incredible.

"To have him back and kind of leading the way for a lot of the other guys to show this is what it takes to be playing really well at this level is great."

Carter made a low key return as a replacement against the Hurricanes in Wellington on June 28 but he has proven in subsequent matches that he still has the class to keep his opponents on their toes.

The 100-Test veteran has put his body on the line on defence, shown that he can still accelerate through gaps, and still possesses the power to shrug off tacklers.

"It's just nice having a guy like him out on the field who smiles and has a calm manner," Ellis said.

Carter's return should help the Crusaders to avoid the mistakes which they made in their 30-25 defeat to the Sharks in Christchurch in Round 14 of the league phase of the competition.

Despite having experienced players like Richie McCaw, Ryan Crotty and Ellis, who came on as a replacement for Willi Heinz, in their side the Crusaders made the error of not changing their game-plan.

"We went in with that mindset that we were going to kick because that's what they do, they kick and try and pressure you," said Ellis.

"So we decided we were going to kick back and put it back on them. But when they got down to 13 men we probably should have gone to a style of rugby where we moved them around a little bit more."

Source: SANZAR media unit

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