Early setback for Dan Carter's ABs comeback
Dan Carter's season of rejuvenation has stalled after just four matches.
Revelations that Carter cracked the fibula bone in his right leg during last weekend's Super Rugby grand final loss won't just leave the All Black feeling frustrated and angry - he also has to watch Aaron Cruden continue his challenge for the No 10 jersey ahead of next year's World Cup.
Carter's recent six-month sabbatical was supposed to extend his career but already, after only 297 minutes for the Crusaders, he will spend at least a month rehabilitating the injury he suffered in the first half of last weekend's 33-32 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney.
Missing the upcoming matches against the Wallabies in Sydney and Auckland on August 16 and 23 ensures Carter's Bledisloe Cup drought, which stretches back to October 2012, continues.
Calf and shoulder injuries forced him out of last year's games against the Aussies.
Given his ''red flag'' status, a term reserved for All Blacks players whose bodies are more susceptible to wear, the 32-year-old isn't guaranteed to play the next two Rugby Championship matches, against Argentina and South Africa on September 6 and 13, either.
Hansen won't rush Carter back if he feels he isn't fully fit and Cruden, who started all three tests against England in June, will relish being given more starts.
Taking a sabbatical was supposed to add oxygen to Carter's career and open the gap between himself and Beauden Barrett and Cruden.
That's why this injury, which occurred when he was hammered by two Waratahs defenders, will be of immense frustration.
The small crack in his fibula was not originally picked-up by X-ray and a scan was required to locate it.
''Twelve years of professional rugby catches up on you and takes its toll on your body,'' Carter said in reference to his sabbatical last week.
''I have had a lot of injuries in the last couple of years, so [it was] just a chance to step back and have a proper pre-season. Hopefully, it will give the body another couple of years. My motivation is a lot higher than it normally is midway through the season, which is a big positive.''
The All Blacks confirmed today Carter's Crusaders team-mate Colin Slade had been called in to their Rugby Championship squad as an injury replacement for the crocked No 10.
At least Carter doesn't require surgery.
Crusaders lock Luke Romano, who broke his fibula against the Reds in Brisbane on May 11, required an operation and is now competing against the clock to be declared fit for the All Blacks' northern tour.
Carter's medical file has expanded rapidly in recent years.
Late last year he had an operation to remove bone spurs from an ankle. Earlier in the season he broke a bone in a hand and also suffered a grade-three AC joint injury.
During the 2011 World Cup, as he prepared to captain the All Blacks for the first time, in a pool match against Canada in Wellington, he ruptured his groin during a routine goal-kicking session and had an operation.
Hansen, who last week stated 110-test loosehead prop Tony Woodcock may miss the remainder of the season because of a shoulder problem, will have been relieved to learn Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett hopes to make a swift recovery from his knee injury.
Crockett expects to train next week. Another loosehead prop, Joe Moody, suffered a concussion in the grand final and is not yet symptom-free.
Lock Dominic Bird suffered an injury to his right big toe and the extent of the injury remains uncertain.