Carter just a conversion away

by Staff Writer

A conversion is all that Daniel Carter needs to again become Test rugby's highest points scorer but the record is the furthest thing from his mind as he prepares for New Zealand's Tri-Nations match against South Africa on Saturday.

Carter's three conversions after coming on as a second-half replacement in last Friday's 60-14 romp against Fiji in Dunedin took him to 1194 Test points - just one point behind England's Jonny Wilkinson.

But while he is keen to grab back the record, the superstar five-eighth is not one to be motivated by statistics.

"I wouldn't mind getting that one back, he took it off me pretty much straight after I got it, but it's not what drives me," Carter said.

"I do get extremely proud when breaking certain records, but I would never know how many points I need to get records. It's not why I play the game."

The first-choice pivot was fulsome in his praise of the way his understudy Colin Slade, in his second Test match, steered the All Blacks around Carisbrook, but added he was happy to be back starting and not coming off the reserves bench.

"I'm looking forward to getting back that No.10 jersey," he said.

Carter felt that while the All Blacks did some things well against Fiji, the side would be better for the run and would see the benefits of having another week together to iron out some of the rough edges to their game.

"There's a lot more clarity within the side. A lot of the guys had a million things going through their minds last week - learning some of the plays - and I think it showed a little bit in the game.

"Once we have that clarity, we can bring the intensity and physicality. That's what we've been working hard on this week so guys are not thinking too much when they're out on the field, they can just rip into it."

He expected after blowing the cobwebs away last week that both sides would bring more to the match this week, especially at the breakdown where Australia and Fiji caused both sides problems.

He tipped the Springboks, under fire for sending a weakened team down under for their two away Tri-Nations matches and still smarting after a lacklustre 39-20 loss in Sydney, to be determined to make amends in Wellington.

Media reports about a supposed secret training camp, denied by South Africa Rugby Union chief executive Jurie Roux, would also serve to motivate the Springboks, who have made four changes to the side that started against the Wallabies.

Carter's return to the starting line-up is one of four changes to the All Blacks side that took to the field against Fiji.

Cory Jane comes in on the right wing after recovering from a badly dislocated finger and his introduction means Zac Guildford switches to the left wing in place of Sitiveni Sivivatu, who has been troubled by a knee injury.

Blindside flanker Jerome Kaino returns to force a rejig of the back row with Adam Thomson switching to the back of the scrum for the first time in his Test career, bumping Liam Messam to the bench and in the second row Sam Whitelock pushes Dunedin debutant Jarrad Hoeata to the reserves.

Sonny Bill Williams is on the bench and will play his first Test in New Zealand if he is introduced to the fray.

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