Colin Slade may keep No 10 shirt from Carter

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 04/07/2014
HARD LUCK: Despite keeping Dan Carter out of the Crusaders No 10 jumper, Colin Slade is likely to miss out on the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship.
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HARD LUCK: Despite keeping Dan Carter out of the Crusaders No 10 jumper, Colin Slade is likely to miss out on the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship.

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Shuffling the numbers might be a reality for Dan Carter during his fight to re-gain the All Blacks No 10 jersey.

If Carter, named at second five-eighth for tomorrow night's match against the Blues, forms a smooth combination with first-five Colin Slade he may remain there for the remainder of the Crusaders' campaign.

Just how long this term may be hinges on whether the Crusaders qualify for the play-offs but there is a real chance Carter may not start at first-five for the franchise after making his comeback last week as a substitute.

While Carter completed his sabbatical by making several appearances for his Southbridge club, Aaron Cruden started all three tests against England at first-five.

Rather than be intimidated at the prospect of marking All Blacks team-mate Ma'a Nonu tomorrow night, Carter said it was the prospect of making the play-offs that forced his pulse to jump.

"It's part of the season we love the most. We're just around the corner from play-off footy and that's where we want to be. "Although I haven't played a lot of rugby this year I have to get right into it straight away and do whatever I can for this team."

Although he launched some trademark left-footed punts and tested the Hurricanes defensive line last weekend, Carter's impact was minimal.

It will take time to find his rhythm, he said, but that is something the Crusaders don't have.

They are desperate to win their remaining two games to give themselves their best chance of finishing first or second.

"You don't realise how much you miss it until you are actually out there playing," Carter, who will start at No 12 for the Crusaders for the first time since May 2012, noted.

"I felt comfortable being out there but in terms of being in the structures of play I think that will come with time. But the more I play and the more I train with the guys around me there's more trust I can build, then the better I can get."

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