Dan Carter to miss Bledisloe Cup tests
Dan Carter will miss at least two of the All Blacks' Rugby Championship test matches after a scan confirmed he suffered a small crack in his upper fibula bone during last Saturday night's Super Rugby grand final against the Waratahs.
Carter, who was expected to return to first five-eighths and play his first test of the year against the Wallabies in Sydney on August 16, is expected to be unavailable for around four weeks.
This means he will also miss the second Bledisloe Cup test against the Wallabies in Auckland on August 23.
The 32-year-old could also be in doubt for the tests against Argentina in Napier and South Africa in Wellington on September 6 and 13.
The 100-test veteran suffered the injury when he was gang tackled in the first half of the match at ANZ Stadium.
He tried to keep playing but when it was obvious he was in too much pain he was replaced by Tom Taylor.
Carter was forced to sit on the sidelines with an ice pack strapped to his left leg as the Waratahs won 33-32.
The size of the crack meant it was not originally picked up by an X-ray and required a scan to locate it.
The good news for All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is that his ace playmaker doesn't need to have surgery.
Carter's recent sabbatical meant he skipped the test series against England in June and he has repeatedly stated he has never felt so motivated to get back to the international stage and add to his 100 test caps.
Hansen is expected to select Aaron Cruden as his starting No 10 in the Sydney test and Beauden Barrett will be on the bench.
This combination was used in the 3-0 test series win over England.
Colin Slade, who was the third-ranked first-five in that squad but never played, may be called into the squad to replace Carter if he is ruled out.
Meanwhile, loosehead prop is Wyatt Crockett is expected to train next week once he has recovered from the knee injury he suffered in a tackle during the grand final.
This means he should be available to represent the All Blacks next week.
The Crusaders book-end is likely to start in Bledisloe I because Tony Woodcock has a shoulder injury.
The Crusaders' other loosehead prop, Joe Moody, suffered a concussion against the Waratahs.
A Crusaders spokesperson said he was ''making good progress'' but has not yet been cleared of the concussion symptoms.
Another All Black, lock Dominic Bird, suffered a toe injury and the extent of the injury will be known soon.
He was the four-ranked lock during the June series against England behind Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Patrick Tuipulotu.