Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Carter's baby plans could hurt Crusaders

Daniel Carter doesn't have a sabbatical planned for next year but the new addition to his family could enforce one and it has the potential to impact badly on the Crusaders.

His All Blacks' and Crusaders' captain Richie McCaw won't play for his Super Rugby team until after the June tests against France at the earliest, and although Carter will be expected to report for duty at Rugby Park in Christchurch on January 28, chances are he will get three or four weeks off at a crucial time for Todd Blackadder's men.

Carter's wife Honor is due to give birth in early April - around the time his Super Rugby team is in South Africa and Australia playing the Stormers, Sharks and Western Force; fixtures which are traditionally extremely testing.

His availability for that trip must be in doubt, but Blackadder yesterday was taking a positive view, saying he would meet Carter, along with the rest of his All Blacks, in the next few weeks after they returned to Christchurch.

The Crusaders' coach wasn't sure what the 30-year-old's plans around his baby would be, but said: "Traditionally your priorities shift a bit when you have a baby, and so they should, so we'll just have to sit down and discuss the best approach.''

Carter commutes to Christchurch from Auckland, where wife Honor lives and works, an arrangement which could be tested by the addition of a baby.

However, Blackadder said he wasn't too concerned about Carter's recurring injuries. The world's best first-five's trip abroad for the Crusaders might be in doubt, but he has rated himself a good chance to wear the No10 jersey against England at Twickenham on Sunday morning after a calf injury prevented him from playing Wales at Cardiff.

Carter's most recent issue has come after he spent a long spell on the sidelines with the Crusaders last season due to a hamstring injury, which followed last year's World Cup-ending groin problem.

"Obviously he's had a few injury issues but they're all quite random,'' Blackadder said. "He's a dynamic, explosive, player who plays the game at a high intensity. He also puts a lot of strain on his body with his goalkicking.''

Having signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union until after the 2015 World Cup, Carter is highly likely to ask for a sabbatical in 2014 - and given what McCaw said in a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper about his impending break, that is likely to be something Carter would look forward to.

McCaw said of turning up at Stadio Olimpico for the All Blacks test against Italy knowing Sam Cane would be wearing his No7 jersey: "It felt a bit weird even if I'd prepared myself. During the week I was fine and even when it was the captain's run I thought: `'Aw well, done a few of those'.

"But when I got to the ground and felt the buzz I thought: 'Jeepers, I miss not pulling on the boots today'. That was the moment when I thought: 'I haven't had enough of this yet'.

"It's also made me enjoy these last few weeks because I haven't been thinking: 'Oh, I've only got four weeks off and then I'll be straight back into it.' There's light at the end of the tunnel.''

- APNZ

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