Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Decision looms for last test

Carter says suiting up depends on final training session as media inquisition zigzags from fitness to baby questions.

Daniel Carter's first public appearance since his fatherhood tweet delivered a battle between the rugby scribes and the fluffy social media types.

The All Black five-eighths scraped his chair a bit as the inquiries ping-ponged from one set of questioners to another about his fitness and the baby's gender.

Neither was confirmed. The lower calf-Achilles tendon area on Carter's right leg let him train lightly in London and while he was keen to play, he wouldn't unless he felt fully fit.

The plan was to get through training, which he did at about 50 per cent horsepower with a full inquiry today to determine if he will suit up for the All Blacks' final test against England on Sunday.

Carter kicked a bit but nothing much to give any clue about his involvement in the last test on tour although he offered an encouraging outlook.

"I'm pretty confident to be honest," he said. "Some positive thinking for the last game of the year and I want to be part of it so the week for me is doing whatever I can to keep myself positioned to play.

"I'm going to be smart about my decision."

He was also pretty chirpy about his other big news, information he and wife Honor had kept to themselves for some months until they let loose on Twitter.

He was very excited about fatherhood, though he and his wife had kept that news quiet because they were pretty private people.

Privacy and Twitter go together, do they? However, with guestimates the baby is due about March-April, Carter and his wife must have been busy juggling schedules around the Super rugby playoffs time.

Apparently there had been congratulatory messages from the Prime Minister, texts and emails from many others, then Carter was moved back to rugby and inquiries about the leg injuries which have removed him from four tests this season.

It was frustrating because he felt in good nick. He was unsure whether the issues came because he was loading his right side more after surgery to repair his Achilles and groin injuries on his left peg.

Thoughts of a sabbatical were not on his immediate agenda but if he felt he was struggling mentally to stay refreshed, he would invoke that clause in his contract.

So far he felt fine. If anything, the All Blacks had sharpened their focus since the World Cup triumph, to buck the trend of winners following it with average seasons.

Carter had been surprised, given England's success at the 2003 World Cup and their resources, that they hadn't had another victory against the All Backs since that same year.

They had shown patches since then but had lacked consistency.

"Talent is not an issue, they can beat any side on their day," Carter warned, before he got some more baby inquiries.

He didn't know what gender the baby was and conceded he or she would probably have sporting ability.

There was no word about a webcam at the Carter birth, plans for a national naming competition or a contract with a television channel for live updates and footage, but there's sure to be a flurry of magazine bidding for the first baby pics and words from the parents.

- NZ Herald

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