Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Carter likely to collect his 100th cap

Lacklustre showing in Paris won't see replacement with Cruden at Twickenham.

Dan Carter has defied age and a run if serious injuries to stand on the verge of his 100th cap. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Carter has defied age and a run if serious injuries to stand on the verge of his 100th cap. Photo / Getty Images

He is the one guy who could rain on Dan Carter's rugby parade against England but Aaron Cruden appears reconciled to the fact he will be on the reserves bench at Twickenham on Sunday morning (NZ time).

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is likely to keep faith with Carter this weekend after his steady but unspectacular performance against France in Paris.

While Carter showed some good touches on attack early, defended well and kicked for goal with perfection, that old magic wasn't quite there, although his lack of recent game time is probably responsible.

Cruden, who has impressed during his time in the All Blacks No10 jersey this year as Carter has been in and out with injury, was solid but unspectacular when he replaced the 31-year-old after 52 minutes at the Stade de France.

Cruden laughed off a suggestion that he could be labelled with a reputation akin to the "man who shot Bambi" were he to start at first-five instead of Carter, who needs to play one more test to join the 100-cap club.

"We'll find out on Tuesday [UK time] when they name the team but I'm pretty confident hopefully that I'll be coming off the bench to play a part in some way," he said.

There is excitement among the All Blacks players and management that, having survived a scare in Paris to uphold their perfect record, they have finally arrived in London almost 12 months after their last test defeat with a chance to put things right.

"You can't look too far ahead but now that the week has come, the boys are really excited," Cruden admitted.

"We know it's going to be a big week training, building up to a massive test match on Saturday."

Asked if watching the English celebrate last year was galling, he said: "It always hurts when you are on the other side of it, I suppose, but we've got an opportunity this weekend to rectify that. We've been together for a long time this year and it's a matter of getting it together strategically.

"All of the experiences we've been able to call on this year will definitely put us in good stead this weekend.

"It's going to be a massive occasion, they're obviously going to be pretty confident going into this game and I think we can be too.

"It's going to be two teams at the top of their game going hammer and tongs at each other."


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