No 10 Colin Slade called into All Blacks squad

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 08:57 06/08/2014
Colin Slade
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FORM PLAYER: Colin Slade has earned an All Blacks call up after a fine season with the Crusaders.

Ouch! Can Dan Carter do it again?

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Colin Slade has been called into the All Blacks as injury cover for Dan Carter.

Carter fractured the fibula bone in his right leg during last weekend's Super Rugby final loss to the Waratahs in Sydney and would be sidelined for one month. He would miss at least the first two Bledisloe Cup tests.

The All Blacks weighed up whether to recall Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty or Slade, but have deemed cover at No 10 a priority.

Slade came to the All Blacks after a fine Super Rugby season in which he scored 198 points, made up of four tries, 20 conversions and 46 penalties.

The only Kiwi to do better was Beauden Barrett for the Hurricanes, who scored 209 points from five tries, 32 conversions and 40 penalties. The Waratah's Bernard Foley topped the competition with 252 points.

The inclusion of Slade over Crotty in the All Blacks tinkered with the balance of the squad. The 32-year-old Carter had provided second five-eighth cover and the All Blacks would now run with only three midfield specialists - Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Malakai Fekitoa - for the opening two tests against the Wallabies, though Blues utility Charles Piutau was an option there too.

In Carter's absence, Chiefs first-five Aaron Cruden, who found form in the series sweep over England in June, was almost certain to start in Sydney on August 16, with Hurricanes playmaker Beauden Barrett to back him up from the bench.

Slade's recall stripped Canterbury of their first-choice pivot ahead of next week's NPC opener against Auckland in Christchurch. Tyler Bleyendaal would now be expected to run on wearing 10 for the red-and-blacks.

The first All Blacks test of the Rugby Championship was against the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday, August 16.

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