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Hobbled but far from despondent, Dan Carter portrayed a mixture of frustration and resolve as he spoke about his latest injury setback for the first time today.
Carter displayed a noticeable limp, though walked without crutches, as he strolled into Auckland's Pullman Hotel to launch the "For Everyone" Charitable Foundation; a charity set-up by All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, Carter and Ali Williams to give community grants between $500 and $5000 throughout New Zealand.
The 32-year-old first five-eighth, who has been replaced in the All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad by Colin Slade, will be sidelined for at least one month as he recovers from a fractured fibula suffered in last weekend's Super Rugby final loss to the Waratahs.
That will see him miss the first two Bledisloe Cup tests against the Wallabies in Sydney and Auckland.
"It's frustrating but that's sport. I'm obviously out of action and I'll have to rehab it for a few weeks," he said.
Carter was, however, philosophical about his future. Having recently returned from a six month sabbatical he had worked hard behind the scenes to regain conditioning and fitness. Over the last two weeks Carter seemed back to nearly his best while playing at second-five for the Crusaders, only to be forced from the field last week after a heavy collision.
Though he did his best to hide the disappointment, Carter acknowledged he was desperate to don the All Blacks' 10 jersey - one that will now almost certainly be worn by Aaron Cruden - in Sydney next week.
"The timing of it is one of the most frustrating things," he said. "I've had an extended break and been working extremely hard to get back and playing to the level I'm happy with. I felt like I was just starting to get there and to get a setback like this, that's probably the toughest thing."
Carter was emphatic about one point. He has no plans to call time on his coveted career and expects to make a full recovery and return this season. Naturally, playing a key role in next year's World Cup remains a major goal.
"In terms of next year, the World Cup and all that sort of stuff, that's over a year away," he said. "The bone will heal and I'll be back in a month or however long it takes. There's a lot of rugby to be played and I'm confident I can get up to speed and get up to the high standards I push myself towards."
McCaw also backed his playmaker to make a successful comeback.
"It's disappointing," he said. "It would have been great to have him out there over the next couple of weeks. Injuries are all part of it and he assures me he'll be right again soon."
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