Henry expects Carter to return to No.10 shirt
May 14, 2012
Dan Carter is back in the New Zealand squad after working his way back to his best form with the Crusaders in Super Rugby © Getty Images
World Cup winning All Blacks coach Graham Henry says he expects Dan Carter to reclaim the fly-half shirt for New Zealand's first Test against Ireland.
The Crusaders lynchpin has not played a test since he was injured ahead of the All Black's final World Cup pool match against Canada last year, but is currently getting back to his best in Super Rugby. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named him as part of a 35-player training squad that also includes Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett as rivals for the number 10 jersey.
"There has been talk of moving Dan Carter out to 12 and, looking back 8 years, that is where he started in my first match in charge against England. But I'm sure Dan will be selected at 10," Henry told The Rugby Site. "At the moment there is a subconscious protection of his body going on that even he may not be fully aware of. Dan is playing 75% with the reins on. But as the international season comes around and championship football returns, Dan will get back to his best. He's not lost the ability. Cruden has been outstanding for the Chiefs and it is good to see so many young players coming through in positions where we have been thin in recent years. At 10 Beauden Barrett and Tom Taylor are also part of the future."
The squad will be cut down to 30 on June 3 in preparation for their three-test series against Ireland. The first Test in on June 9 in Auckland followed by matches in Christchurch on June 16 and Hamilton on June 23.
It contains a number of players who helped the All Blacks end their 24 year wait for the Rugby World Cup, including scrumhalf Piri Weepu, second row Ali Williams, and hooker Keven Mealamu. Also included is Sonny Bill Williams and Henry expects the former rugby league man to beat Ma'a Nonu to start at inside centre.
"I still expect him to pick his experienced players for the first test against Ireland this summer," Henry said. "I imagine Sam Whitelock will pair up with Ali Williams in a pack without surprises and that Andy Ellis will start at half back. But the young players that have been brought into the squad are all part of the evolution. I don't think you could call it a surprise to say that Sonny Bill Williams is likely to start. It is sensible to give Ma'a Nonu a rest. He's hitting a wall. He's played 18 months of football without a break. So Sonny will probably start against Ireland. That will get Ma'a moving again and by the Tri Nations he will be raring to go."
A number of younger players have forced their way into the squad after impressing this year and Henry feels now is the time to blood the younger players as the countdown to their defence of the World Cup in 2015 begins.
"Steve continues to look ahead by bringing in Sam Cane even though he hasn't been starting at the Chiefs. With Richie (McCaw) now 31, the coach has to give himself that cover," Henry said. "And of all the young players coming through, Brodie Retallick has been perhaps most impressive of all. Canterbury must wonder how they let him go. That's a surprise. Retallick has been outstanding and is going to play a great deal of international football. It is just a question of when. International football brings the best out of Ali Williams and he will probably get first crack."
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