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New Zealand v Ireland, Hamilton, June 23
Cruden to fill Carter void
ESPN Staff
June 21, 2012
New Zealand's Dan Carter stretches the Ireland defence, New Zealand v Ireland, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, June 9, 2012
Dan Carter will miss the All Blacks final clash with Ireland due to a hamstring problem © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Sam Cane | Dan Carter | Aaron Cruden | Luke Romano
Tournaments/Tours: Ireland tour
Teams: New Zealand

Aaron Cruden is set to make just his fourth start in the All Blacks' No.10 shirt after Dan Carter was ruled out of Saturday's clash with Ireland in Hamilton.

Carter will miss the game with a hamstring problem enforcing one of several changes to the side that edged out Ireland 22-19 in Christchurch last weekend. "Dan pulled up with a sore hamstring after training on Tuesday," revealed All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

"On assessment, he has suffered a mild hamstring strain to his right leg which has unfortunately ruled him out of this weekend's Test. He will undergo further assessment over the next few days to determine when he will be fit to return to rugby."

Reflecting on his promotion, Cruden said: He said: "Last year I felt that I was playing some decent footie, then obviously I missed out on the initial World Cup squad. The coaches told me to keep with it because if there were injuries I might get a call in and, fortunately for me, I was able to come in and gain a lot of confidence by the end.

"It gave me that push that I needed and I was able to continue that form this season. I've been happy with how things are going but I know that I can be a lot better as well."

Elsewhere, captain Richie McCaw switches from openside flanker to No.8 in the place of Kieran Read who is sidelined through concussion. McCaw will team up with Liam Messam and Sam Cane in the back-row with the latter making his first Test start. There is also a Test debut for lock Luke Romano, while wings Hosea Gear and Ben Smith are handed a chance to impress ahead of Zac Guildford and Julian Savea.

Looking ahead to the final clash in an entertaining series, Hansen added: "The All Blacks, by their own admission, weren't happy with the way they performed on Saturday, and in part this is a credit to the way the Irish played. They have laid down a challenge and the key will be now how we respond.

"We will have to ensure our preparation is spot on this week so we can get the performance we need on Saturday. That will mean each and every one of us doing our roles to the best of our abilities."

New Zealand: I Dagg; B Smith, C Smith, S B Williams, H Gear; A Cruden, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, L Romano, S Whitelock, L Messam. S Cane, R McCaw (capt).

Replacements: K Mealamu, B Franks, B Retallick, A Thomson, P Weepu, B Barrett, T Ellison.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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