Relaxed Dan Carter unfazed by his kicking yips

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2014
OFF TARGET: Dan Carter has missed eight of his 18 shots at goal since his return, but is not overly concerned just yet.
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OFF TARGET: Dan Carter has missed eight of his 18 shots at goal since his return, but is not overly concerned just yet.

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Dan Carter isn't worried his left boot is proving more rusty than trusty ahead of the Super Rugby grand final.

While his sabbatical did wonders for his attitude to Super Rugby, Carter, the highest points scorer in tests, admits the six-month break has inflicted some damage on his goal kicking per centages.

Carter, who took over the kicking from Colin Slade against the Highlanders on July 12 and Saturday night's semifinal against the Sharks, has been content with the way he is striking the ball but guiding it between the sticks at AMI Stadium remains an issue.

Although no-one is more familiar with the Christchurch breezes than the All Blacks' kicking machine, he has still missed eight of his 18 shots at goal. That includes a sitter he could have almost thrown over against the Highlanders.

After slotting his first four shots in the 38-6 win over the Sharks, Carter then missed three conversions and a long-range penalty attempt that fell short.

''It has been a couple of games on the trot now - I am kicking the ball well at training but just not executing it well on the field,'' a relaxed Carter said.

''I am sure it will be better next week. It is nothing too concerning, it is just probably a lack of kicks throughout the year. And, like I said, the more I kick out there the better I will get.''

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will be hoping Carter, who has made a seamless transition to second five-eighth to allow Slade to remain at No 10, gets it right in a hurry.

Missing crucial kicks against the Waratahs at Sydney's ANZ Stadium is the last thing Blackadder wants as the franchise hunts for its eight title - and first since 2008.

Carter, who collected winners' medals in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008, said the key to preparing for the grand final was to stick to the routines and not get too hyped ahead of kick-off.

''Obviously the start of the week is all about recovery and preparation. That's where all the work is done and the closer you get to the game that is when you almost ease off and really hit that mental switch.

''You just have to make sure you have genuine preparation and that is not hard to do when you are preparing for a final.''

Although some of the Crusaders were part of the All Blacks' World Cup squad in 2011, several haven't won a Super Rugby title. Israel Dagg, Colin Slade, Sam Whitelock and Owen Franks are in this category.

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For starting players Kieron Fonotia, Nemani Nadolo and all eight reserves this will be biggest match of their careers.

Carter, who has played 100 tests and made 127 Super Rugby appearances, reminded them to keep their preparations simple.

''With finals footy it's not going to be special things that win finals. It is just getting the little things done really well, just building on what we have developed throughout the year.

''It's just the team that works the hardest and wants it.''

- The Press

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