Crusaders pondering starting Carter and Read
It’s the question many rugby supporters in the upper South Island are asking: will Dan Carter and Kieran Read start against the Blues?
Had the Crusaders tipped over the Hurricanes in Wellington last Saturday night, the subject of whether Carter would be named in the run-on team for this weekend’s match against the Blues may not be such a hot one.
But the 16-9 defeat to the Canes ensures it won’t escape scrutiny.
With just two regular season Super Rugby matches left, against the Blues and Highlanders in Christchurch, some fans are working themselves into an anxious state at the thought of their side dropping out of the play-off race if they lose both matches.
Getting Carter and Read, who were used as substitutes in the second half against the Hurricanes, back into the front lines appears the obvious way to gee-up a side who were so lethargic against the Canes, but Crusaders assistant coach Dave Hewett gave little away today.
‘‘We haven’t even gone down that path from a selection point of view,’’ Hewett said.
‘‘Obviously both of them had a little bit of game time and the two individuals performed pretty well in the limited capacity they had.
‘‘They will both be contention, it’s just a matter of what sort of mix we can run with this weekend.’’
Hewett said Colin Slade, who was replaced by Carter after failing a concussion test at the Cake Tin, will be tested before the team is named on Thursday.
Slade will be expected to complete a computerised concussion test, called Cogsport, if he is not plagued by any post-concussion symptoms.
‘‘So far he has pulled-up pretty well,’’ Hewett said.
‘‘Obviously he will have to go through the procedures of CogSport and re-sitting that and making sure everything is okay.
‘‘It’s (the test) not every day. It’s as the medical staff see fit. If you have symptoms you don’t do it but if you don’t (have symptoms) then you do a CogSport test and if you are fine on that then you are in line for selection.
‘‘But the CogSport not is the be-all and end-all and there are a lot of other things that go into it.’’
Hewett said Read, whose season has been interrupted by concussion issues, ‘‘seemed to be in a good place’’.
However, the No 8 picked-up a sore ankle against the Hurricanes. He along with Jordan Taufua (knee) will be monitored by the medical staff.
If Read and first five-eighth Carter are fully fit it would be surprising if they are not selected to start at AMI Stadium.
Carter could start at first-five or second-five. If he goes to No 10 Colin Slade could drop back to fullback if Israel Dagg is still unfit.
Starting Carter at second-five would result in Ryan Crotty moving to centre.
‘‘If required they can play 80 but you don’t want to drop them straight in the deep end if you don’t have to,’’ Hewett added in reference to Carter and Read’s lack of game-time.
‘‘Obviously that wouldn’t be the desirable length of time but, you never know, it could happen.’’
Nemani Nadolo is back from test duty with Fiji and should start against the Blues if he isn’t too run down.
Dagg, who hasn’t played since the All Blacks’ first test against England at Eden Park on June 7, appears to be recovering from his patella tendon injury, but Hewett was non-committal about whether he would re-join the Crusaders.
‘‘Bring him back a week too early and it could mean another eight weeks out, which no-one wants,’’ Hewett said.
‘‘We’ll assess him very closely to see if he’s available.’’