Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Carter in doubt for Wales game

Daniel Carter is in doubt for Sunday morning's test against Wales.

In the final hit out for the test in heavy conditions at the University of Glamorgan, Carter ran for 20 minutes before he grimaced after a crosskick when he felt some pain in his right leg.

His discomfort was apparent and he immediately swapped training bibs with Aaron Cruden and shuffled out of the practice.

The five eighths appeared to hurt his leg training at the same venue earlier in the week but there were denials about any problems.

When questioned at the team announcement today, coach Steve Hansen was emphatic there was no issue with the champion five eighths.

However it did seem unusual that Carter's projected appearance for interviews did not occur with an excuse given about some conflicting task.

After the All Blacks practice later in heavy damp weather, Hansen sent out a note which said Carter had felt a twinge in his leg when kicking during training.

He would be assessed by the medical staff in the next 24 hours and a decision on his involvement in the Millennium Stadium test would be given at the captain's run.

If the medical staff and Hansen deliver the same message they did to hooker Keven Mealamu when he damaged is calf against Italy, they will withdraw Carter from the international.

They have a 32-strong squad and do not want to tax any who have injuries or are struggling with ailments or damage at the end of a long season.

If Carter does not start his place will be taken by Cruden as the other contender Beauden Barrett has been guarding sore ribs this week.

Any news like Carter's defection will buoy Wales who are searching for their first win against the All Blacks since 1953.

The home side have also suffered an injury blow on the eve of the test.

George North has joined Wales' already lengthy casualty list when the winger was ruled out of the match with a hip injury.

The 20-year-old was injured in training earlier in the week and his place on the left wing will be filled by Scarlets teammate Liam Williams.

North has scored 11 tries in 25 tests and was considered to represent one of Wales's best hopes of breaking through the All Blacks' defence.

- with AP

- NZ Herald

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