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

All Blacks: Carter's big day ends in injury

Dan Carter of New Zealand sits injured on the bench during the QBE International match between England and New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.
Dan Carter of New Zealand sits injured on the bench during the QBE International match between England and New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.

The gold boots, complete with special "DC 100'' logo, were shining, but Dan Carter's big day ended in what has become a depressingly familiar way for him - injury.

He left the field in the 26th minute of this battle at Twickenham, his right lower leg again failing him. Carter looked in discomfort after taking the ball into heavy contact and never recovered. He stretched his calf alongside All Blacks doctor Tony Page after Joe Launchbury's try for England, remaining for the re-start but leaving the field soon after, replaced by Aaron Cruden.

It could be Carter's final game until after next year's June internationals against old foe England, a nation with whom his side is building an increasingly intense rivalry. The All Blacks were severely tested in all facets in this 30-22 victory.

With his sabbatical pending, Carter must be in serious doubt for next Monday morning's test against Ireland in Dublin.

Already struggling for match fitness due to his series of injuries over the past 18 months _ Carter's latest problem was the shoulder injury suffered against the Springboks at Eden Park in the recent Rugby Championship - there was always a bit of a concern about his body in this week of all weeks.

Having made it through training soundly, the stage was set. He was nicely composed during his limited opportunities this morning. There were two pinpoint chip-passes for Charles Piutau and Ben Smith and his goalkicking was perfect, with two conversions and a penalty, including one from the right sideline.

There was a feeling he was playing within himself in preparation of expressing himself fully as the game wore on, but it was not to be.

His replacement Cruden initially found it difficult to impose his will on the game but there were some nice touches. A charged down here, a shimmy and sidestep there.

Cruden packs a surprising amount of power into his a relatively small frame. His work on defence was also important as the All Blacks were forced to scramble time and again.

Scramble they did, though, for the All Blacks' 13th victory of the year.

In the gloom of late afternoon in south west London, Carter smiled on the pitch afterwards as he received his cap from skipper Richie McCaw. The victory and recognition will have gone a long way to ease the personal pain of yet another injury.

"Most people see him come out on a Saturday and be a champion... but the work that goes in makes him a true champion,'' McCaw said in his presentation. "You'll go down as one of the greats of world rugby.''


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