Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Carter must earn selection

Daniel Carter is easing his way back to top-class rugby. Photo / Getty Images
Daniel Carter is easing his way back to top-class rugby. Photo / Getty Images

I heard Andrew Mehrtens talking the other day about how he felt Daniel Carter would be best served by playing his way back into the All Blacks via the provincial championship. Not a bad idea, that.

When you look at how fragile Carter has been in the past couple of seasons, easing him in gently is not a silly idea. There would also be obvious benefits to the competition, having a player of Carter's standing being involved all the way through.

But it comes down to what he wants to do and what he feels he can do and I would imagine he'll want to get back into test rugby as quickly as he can.

It's probably going to end up being a little hard on Colin Slade. He's played well for the Crusaders - he took a wee while to settle - but he stuck at it and he's had a purple patch. My best guess would be that, if both men stay fit, Carter will probably come off the bench again next week for a longer stint with a view that he'll win a start in the not too distant future.

It would be pretty harsh on Slade if he was dropped to the bench after the way he's played. But I'm not sure that's what they will do. They need quality and experience in their backline, especially in the backfield.

Slade is comfortable at fullback and, with Israel Dagg struggling with a knee injury, the former may be pushed back there. It's not inconceivable that Carter could be asked to play at No 12 with Ryan Crotty at centre.

Whatever happens, if Carter is going to be selected to play in the Rugby Championship, then he has to merit selection. I know Aaron Cruden was a bit rusty in the first two games against England but, to be fair, just about everyone else was. Both Cruden and Beauden Barrett played well in Hamilton, though, and if Carter is going to come in ahead of them, then he will need to play well to justify that.

As to whether he can ... I'm probably about 50-50 on that.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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