All Blacks call up Colin Slade to replace Dan Carter
August 5, 2014
The Crusaders' Dan Carter sits on the bench after leaving the field injured © Getty Images
Ewen McKenzie says the All Blacks' "embarrassment of riches" at fly-half will mitigate against the loss of superstar No.10 Dan Carter, who has been ruled out of action for four weeks after scans showed he cracked his right fibula during the Super Rugby final on Saturday.
McKenzie said Carter's absence would not change the Wallabies' preparations.
"They've got Beauden Barrett, they've got Aaron Cruden, an embarrassment of riches," McKenzie said before the announcement that Crusaders fly-half Colin Slade had been added to the squad as injury cover for Carter.
"That probably makes the selection situation easier for them, someone was going to miss out so that probably makes it a bit clearer in how they pick it. From our point of view, we're concentrating on ourselves and well play whoever they put out there."
Wallabies half-back Nic White agreed with his coach, saying All Blacks No.10s always grabbed their opportunities with both hands.
"It's just New Zealand, it doesn't seem to matter," Smith said. "Barrett's been pretty unreal off the bench for them, and Aaron Cruden has certainly filled Dan Carter's boots the last few times."
Slade joined the All Blacks' squad after a fine Super Rugby season in which he scored 198 points - four tries, 20 conversions and 46 penalties. Barrett was the only New Zealander to do better, with 209 points from five tries, 32 conversions and 40 penalties for the Hurricanes. The Waratahs' Bernard Foley topped the ladder with 252 points.
Slade's inclusion over Ryan Crotty altered the balance of the squad, as Carter had been named also to provide cover at second five-eighth. The All Blacks now will run with only three midfield specialists - Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Malakai Fekitoa - for the opening two Tests against the Wallabies.
The Wallabies meanwhile have injury concerns of their own, albeit in the front row, with prop Scott Sio (ankle) joining hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (knee) on the injury list. The duo have been sent home from the squad after receiving bad news from their respective scans in the past 24 hours.
That means third string hooker Nathan Charles will be relied upon to secure the set piece for the Wallabies, while Melbourne Rebels prop Laurie Weeks has been called into the squad for Sio.
"[Charles] is not the size of the other guys. But he is a very good set piece player," McKenzie said. "He's an excellent thrower and a very good scrummager."
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