All Blacks: Plenty to play for in Carter's eyes

By Daniel Richardson

Dan Carter. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Carter. Photo / Getty Images

Dead rubber? Not according to Dan Carter.

On Saturday night the All Blacks will meet Australia in Brisbane, but with the Rugby Championship finished and the Bledisloe Cup secured for another year, there doesn't seem to be a heck of a lot on the line in terms of trophies.

But there are a few statistical milestones on offer for the All Blacks, while the team was also rocked yesterday with the news that head coach Steve Hansen's father, Des, had died.

It remains unclear whether Hansen will travel with the team for the game at Suncorp Stadium, the last venue at which the All Blacks lost a test match when they were toppled 25-20 by Australia in August last year.

Since that loss the All Blacks have taken every opponent in their stride, winning 16 consecutive tests and claiming their second World Cup title along the way.

They can equal the test wins record for tier-one nations if they claim victory this weekend and, as Carter pointed out, there's another personal achievement on offer for one of the team's more durable members.

"This game is still huge for us,'' the 30-year-old said.

"It's another opportunity to put on the black jersey; although there's nothing riding on it in terms of the Rugby Championship or Bledisloe Cup this is still a really important game, travelling to Brisbane, where we haven't had a lot of success in the past. If we need any more motivation, it's one of our great leaders Keven Mealamu's 100th game. So we really want to put in a good performance for him.

"He's been a real stalwart of this team and we'd love to get through the 80 minutes and have a win for Kevy because he's such a valuable part of the team.''

Mealamu, 33, will become only the third All Black to have played 100 tests - after Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina _ providing he takes the field in Brisbane.

While the All Blacks were dealing with their own off-field setbacks, the Wallabies have been a team in turmoil during the past few months.

Underwhelming results, a slew of injuries and conflict between coach Robbie Deans and the now-injured Quade Cooper have all played their part in a dismal year for Australian rugby.

Things didn't get much brighter recently as chief executive John O'Neill resigned from the Australian Rugby Union, but Carter said all those off-field issues could inspire the Wallabies.

"When there's a lot going on like that teams can really step up and they really want to play for themselves, which I'm sure they'll do. So I see them as being a huge threat this weekend and to be honest, with everything going on [in our camp], I haven't really thought about it too much.

"I've just concentrated on what's going on in our camp and things are running pretty smoothly at the moment. But we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep continuing to work hard because it's shown if we work extremely hard we get the success on the field. So that's been a real focus for us this week.''


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