Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

All Blacks: Carter ruled out for Wales clash

Daniel Carter will not play against Wales after damaging the base of his right calf at training on Thursday and is rated about a 50-50 chance of being fit in time to face England at Twickenham.

Aaron Cruden comes into the starting team to replace Carter and Beauden Barrett, having passed a fitness test on his damaged ribs, will be on the bench at the Millennium Stadium for the clash that kicks off at 6.15am New Zealand time, Sunday.

"On Thursday he felt his Achilles so we got him scanned," said All Black coach Steve Hansen. "He had an ultrasound and an MRI this morning and there is a bit of swelling there [base of his calf].

"He looks like he is a 50-50 chance [of playing the final tour game] so we will just see what happens."

Carter's withdrawal, while far from ideal, is not quite the panic-inducing event it used to be.

And nor, sadly, is it as rare as it used to be. The All Blacks will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run to 20 tests on Sunday, which will be an amazing feat if they do. More amazing possibly is the fact that they will have won half without Carter: the Welsh test will be the 10th he hasn't been played in the run.

Just as importantly, the All Blacks have experience now of having to reorganise themselves after a late change in the No 10 jersey.

"We have been here and don that, not long ago in Hamilton I think it was against Ireland," says Hansen. "And that didn't turn out too bad so hopefully it is a sign of things to come.

"He is disappointed obviously. The form he is in, when you play as well as he did against Scotland and he didn't participate against Italy, he was really looking forward to playing. This is one of the stadiums that these guys love playing in and an opposition we like playing."

All Black captain Richie McCaw felt much the same way as Hansen about the loss of Carter. "It has happened a couple of times now and it is something you can't control," he said.

"The other fellas that are going to fill in, Aaron for starters, has played a few tests now and some pretty big matches so we have huge confidence in him. It is pretty disappointing for Dan but the next guy will come in and do the job."

- NZ Herald

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