All Black star’s Super final injury will bring inevitable questions over his future
You could understand Steve Hansen's enthusiasm.
The world's premier five-eighths, Daniel Carter, had survived several Super Rugby matches and was ready to hit centre-stage when the All Blacks crossed the Tasman for the opening Bledisloe Cup test.
That was a week ago. Now Carter has been ordered to rest for about a month as he recovers from a hairline crack in his right leg.
That will remove him from the opening two tests of the Rugby Championship, against the Wallabies, and probably the next two, against the Pumas and Springboks in Napier and Wellington.
Carter was hurt in a double tackle after 30 minutes of the Super Rugby final with the Waratahs and hobbled into further rehab.
This latest injury will be more evidence for those who believe the 32-year-old Carter will not last until the next World Cup or should at least be behind the younger Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.
Others will see his misfortune as one of the pitfalls in rugby, an accident any player could have and one from which Carter will recover to contribute later in the test series.
Carter began his sabbatical after not seeing out his 100th test at Twickenham last year.
He resumed with several games for his Southbridge club before switching his thoughts to work with the Crusaders after the competition interval in June. He began from the bench and then started at second five-eighths outside Colin Slade in games against the Blues, Highlanders and Sharks before the final.
After Carter's strong semifinal performance against the Sharks, All Black coach Hansen glowed about his performance.
"The pleasing thing is he looks really sharp, his body's allowing him to do the things we expect him to be able to do and he wants to be able to do," Hansen said.
"When you look back to what was happening to him prior to that, it was frustration after frustration after frustration. He couldn't string three games together. He's now done that, he looks good, he looks sharp. The next step is the test arena and we'll see how he goes there."
That viewing is on hold as the frustrations return for Carter, Hansen and the All Blacks and more questions are asked about the great five-eighths' future.
He is not the only All Black casualty from the Super 15 final.
Loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett and one of his deputies, Joe Moody, are struggling.
Crockett hurt a knee but there are optimistic reports he will be back on the training field next week while Moody was concussed and has still not recovered fully. Lock Dominic Bird damaged his right big toe and was being sent for further tests to determine the extent of his injury.