Carter's injury raises red flag on career

by Staff Writer

Dan Carter has been classified as injury-prone by the All Blacks and will be given special treatment to extend a glittering rugby career.

Carter will miss next week's Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks to fully rest the same calf strain which ruled him out of the 21-5 win over Argentina in Wellington on Saturday.

Next week in Dunedin will be the ninth Test 30-year-old Carter has missed out of New Zealand's last 19.

He missed the majority of last year's World Cup campaign with a groin issue and coach Steve Hansen was resigned to that pattern continuing unless Carter was eased through niggles like his current one.

"He's getting older isn't he? The more you play the game, the more vulnerable you are to injury," Hansen told journalists.

"He's got quite a few miles on the clock and that's just standard for an older player.

"He's what we call a red flag athlete. He's at a high risk of getting re-injury so we have to be smart about how much pressure we put him under."

At this stage Hansen expected Carter to be fit for the final two Tests of the Rugby Championship, away to Argentina on September 29 and South Africa a week later.

The 89-Test veteran's absence handed further opportunities to his logical successor Aaron Cruden, 23, and 21-year-old Beauden Barrett to establish themselves.

It means Cruden will face the Springboks in Dunedin on Saturday and seek to atone for a mixed outing against Argentina.

A typically blunt Hansen agreed the 23-year-old was capable of better.

"He started off pretty average," Hansen told journalists on Sunday.

"The pleasing thing was that he grew and grew into the game.

"He's a young five-eighth and it was really testing conditions for him and (halfback) Aaron Smith so both of them will get a lot out of that Test."

Carter's injury issues has fast-forwarded Hansen's general plan to start filtering in the next wave of All Blacks talent ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

"Over the next 12 months to 24 months, there's going to be some pressure on who's playing where and that's got to be good for our game," Hansen said.

"We've got a clear goal of where we want to be and how we want to play and we're working hard towards that.

"We've been fortunate enough to get some younger players on the park."

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