Over-qualified water boy can't wait to get back

KICKING BACK: Dan Carter should make the transition back into the All Blacks’ starting side seamlessly.
KICKING BACK: Dan Carter should make the transition back into the All Blacks’ starting side seamlessly.

The All Blacks water boy is about to throw his bottle away.

After a couple of weeks of running the sidelines and passing on advice to fellow first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, Dan Carter says he is "really looking forward" to his return.

The fact he has been so close to the action in the opening two tests has only fuelled his appetite to add to his record 1385 test points.

"To see things first hand, and the way the French have been playing and the way we have been trying to play, it's been good to learn," he said.

You would think after 94 tests, Carter would have learnt all he could about test rugby, but he evidently does not think that way.

Clearly a man who does not lack for motivation, Carter sees every opportunity to front a team like France as an experience.

He downplays the "changes" the All Blacks are trying to make and what it means to his general game plan and patterns, describing them instead as subtle.

"I guess, through my injury, I've had to sit back and watch, I haven't been able to do it myself."

He sees no problem reuniting with halfback Piri Weepu in a combination that has not played together since November 11.

They still have a good understanding of how each other likes and wants to play and tomorrow night is expected to be no different.

Widely regarded as the All Blacks' greatest ever tactical kicker, Carter was impressed with the way the side exploited the space available against France in Christchurch.

"I guess that just shows the growth of our game from test one to test two and our defence was a lot better.

"It's something we really pride ourselves on, making the most out of our opportunities."

Although many of the All Blacks' moves might look preconceived, Carter insists it comes down to checking the defence before any snap decisions are made.

That means Carter, Cruden and Taranaki's Beauden Barrett have to think fast on their feet and live with the consequences of their actions.

Not that they lack a few solid voices around them, especially with a midfield containing 146 test caps.

Add in captain Kieran Read's 50 and Piri Weepu's 70 caps and the world champions do not lack for experience in key decision-making positions.

The variety of Ma'a Nonu's kicking game was certainly a highlight of the second test and although he would like to take credit for contributing to the performance, Carter provided little tuition. "It's something he has always worked on," he said. "He just hasn't had many opportunities. He works extremely hard on his kicking game and it paid off with a couple of fine touches he did make."

Carter thought that it was "very important" to sign off the series with the same level of intensity they showed in Christchurch.

Taranaki Daily News