Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Carter rues poor luck with injuries

Dan Carter has spoken of his frustration at being troubled by yet another calf injury, a problem which has become all too familiar for the All Blacks' pivot and which will rule him out of the first two Bledisloe Cup matches of the year.

It will see the first-five miss this Saturday's test against Australia in Sydney and the return encounter in Wellington a week later.

The All Blacks have a week off following the two matches against the Wallabies. Their next Rugby Championship encounter is against Argentina in Hamilton on September 7, a match Carter will be hopeful of playing in.

"It's a bit frustrating, especially when the body feels good and then you have a wee setback like this,'' Carter said today.

"So it's always frustrating but the thing is I've had injuries like this before so I know what I have to do to get back playing and play as well as I know I can.''

The 31-year-old, who recently announced he will take a six-month sabbatical from the game next year in order to freshen up for the All Blacks' defence of the World Cup in 2015, said he hadn't experienced any calf issues this season despite a recent history of leg complaints.

"They've been good all year to be honest. So it's the first time I've had a calf injury this year so it's important that I just do the rehab so it's not an ongoing thing for the rest of the year.''

Carter missed a test against Argentina in September last year due to a calf problem, while a similar ailment also saw him miss the All Blacks' encounter with Wales in November.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen labelled Carter as a "red flag athlete'' last year due to his recurring leg problems, which have also included groin and hamstring issues.

"Obviously it's frustrating and a little concerning for him and it just reiterates why he needs to have this extended break so he can get all the niggles dead right so he can come back and play on a consistent basis,'' Hansen said today.

Carter felt tightness in the calf area after the All Blacks' warm-up games in Lower Hutt on Friday and experienced more pain after training yesterday. A scan yesterday afternoon confirmed the injury.

Carter wrote on his Twitter account today: "I don't seem to have much luck with injuries when I'm in Wellington'', a reference to the groin injury which ruled him out of the last World Cup.

Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden is likely to take Carter's place at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, with Hurricanes pivot Beauden Barrett on the bench as cover.

Cruden, 24, started two tests for the All Blacks against France in the successful June series earlier this year when Carter was ruled out with a broken hand.

"We are really fortunate that we've got more than one world-class five-eighth and Aaron's been on top of his game all season,'' Hansen said.

"He's just gone through two major matches with a lot of intensity and pressure [for the Chiefs]. So he's ready to rumble and he's also played a couple of tests this year and also understands what we are trying to do and he's part of the leadership group so it's business as usual.''

Carter was likely to serve as second-five cover in the squad given Ma'a Nonu has been hampered by an ankle problem but it appears there won't be any major concerns there.

"Nonu's trained well today,'' Hansen said. "So we'll wait and see on Thursday if he gets picked.''

- APNZ

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