Dan Carter back lacing up the kicking boots
Dan Carter looks set to kick goals again when the Crusaders face the Bulls in Pretoria.
The Crusaders first five-eighth hasn't attempted any shots at goal since tearing a tendon that attaches the adductor longus tendon muscle to the bone during last year's World Cup.
Now, after the six-month rehabilitation which involved an operation on his left groin, the All Blacks star appears confident of taking over the goal kicking against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday morning (NZT).
Following the training at the team's base outside Rustenburg last night (NZT) Carter had a prolonged kicking session with team physiotherapist John Roche and seemed to be in no discomfort.
A short warm-up exercise involving an elastic band attached to his foot and the goal post was followed by the work-out which involved Carter taking shots from a variety of angles.
Having missed the opening three matches to allow him time to recover from a five-month break over the off-season, the 30-year-old made his first Super appearance of the year against the Cheetahs on March 24. He played the second 40 minutes.
Last weekend Carter started against the Lions and lasted three-quarters of the match in Johannesburg before Crotty took the field and Tom Taylor moved from No 12 to playmaker. Taylor retained the kicking duties that night.
Tyler Bleyendaal, who started at first-five for the opening three rounds, was the preferred goal kicker until relinquishing the No 10 jersey to Taylor for the Cheetahs match.
With Carter expected to take over the kicking in Pretoria, coach Todd Blackadder will be seriously considering whether to return the hard running Ryan Crotty to the starting line-up ahead of Taylor.
The Crusaders have no major injury concerns as they prepare to leave their training camp near Rustenburg and transfer to Pretoria tomorrow (NZT). Although Corey Flynn (calf), Andy Ellis (neck) and Robbie Fruean (ankle) sat out training earlier in the week, all three have recovered and are available for selection.
"They were all minor niggles and I woundn't put a guy at risk for a light training run like that,'' Blackadder said. "They're all good, they are all fine. There is no problem there.''
Hooker Flynns' leg was rigorously tested during an aggressive scrummaging session.
The team will have a day off before leaving for Pretoria. On their day off many of the players will go on a game safari or visit nearby Sun City.
Although the Bafokeng Sports Campus where the Crusaders have been staying for the last couple of days is isolated - there are no shops, restaurants or movie theatres - Blackadder, who has demanded an improvement in the performance following the 23-13 win over the Lions at Ellis Park last weekend, said it had proved an ideal location to prepare for a high-intensity mach against the Bulls.
"It has been perfect for us. I reckon we needed this, we needed to come together and get real clarity. Our guys have taken a lot of responsibility and they have put a lot of time and effort into their game and what the opposition will bring.
"It has been good to get away from all the distractions.''
Blackadder will name his team on tomorrow morning (NZT).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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