Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: No 10 or No 12, I'll just be happy to make the All Blacks - Carter

Tom Taylor has played at No 10 for the Crusaders while Dan Carter has played second five-eighths. Photo / Getty Images.
Tom Taylor has played at No 10 for the Crusaders while Dan Carter has played second five-eighths. Photo / Getty Images.

Dan Carter has reacted to news he could play second five-eighths for the All Blacks with the coolness he used to have when kicking goals.

No 10 or No 12, it doesn't matter to him, Carter said yesterday after hints from new national team coach Steve Hansen he could get a sideways shift for next month's Ireland tests if his injured groin prevents him from fulfilling one of his core roles.

"Obviously a goal of mine is to be a part of that All Black squad, I'll just be happy to play wherever I can," he said.

"I'm in a similar situation here with the Crusaders at the moment, I'll just do what's best for the team. If it means playing I'm more than happy about that. It's an exciting thing so I'll just do whatever I'm told."

Hansen and his fellow All Blacks coaches visited the Crusaders last month during one of their scheduled trips around the New Zealand franchises but did not discuss positions, Carter said.

Given Carter's last on-field experience as an All Black was being helped from a Wellington training pitch with a torn adductor during the World Cup, that relaxed attitude is not surprising.

But there is no doubt that he sees himself as a specialist first-five and that he is reluctant to move from there in the long-term.

Carter has played five of his seven games for the Crusaders this season at second-five, with Tom Taylor at No 10 and kicking for goal. Carter has kicked for goal in only one match - the loss to the Bulls in Pretoria on April 8.

Missing three relatively easy kicks at goal in that game, he showed some discomfort when kicking after arriving back in Christchurch before the Stormers match the following weekend and Taylor took over the tee.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has said Carter will stay at second-five until he can resume his kicking duties.

With Hansen suggesting Carter was definitely in the All Blacks picture even if not able to kick effectively, Aaron Cruden comes into the frame for the No 10 jersey for the first test against Ireland in Auckland on June 9.

The struggling Piri Weepu's case for halfback is also strengthened given his kicking abilities - he effectively kicked for goal during the Blues' loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday.

"It's coming along, it improves each week," was Carter's summary of his injury.

"There was a bit of a setback during the Hurricanes game [on April 21] when I gave it a tweak but I'm just following my rehab plan and trying to build up the strength in that area."

When asked how goalkicking fitted into his rehabilitation, Carter replied: "It's definitely part of the rehab plan, I'm building into that. But at the moment I'm not able to kick as many kicks as I'd like. I just have to limit the kicking I'm doing. I'm slowly building each week."

He said he hoped to be kicking for goal by the first test against Ireland.

"Hopefully, but it's something I concentrate on each week and see how I pull up after the game to plan my next week. This week it's unlikely I'll be able to kick goals, so I'll just continue to work on my rehab and strengthen that area."

- APNZ

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