Carter closes in on Tri-Nations record
September 11, 2009
Carter sharpens his kicking game ahead of Saturday's showdown with the Springboks in Hamilton © Getty Images
New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter is confident he can orchestrate a crucial Tri-Nations victory over South Africa in Hamilton on Saturday.
The 27-year-old is the only member of tomorrow's two starting 15s not involved in the most recent clashes between the sides - a 28-19 victory for the Springboks in Bloemfontein followed by a 31-19 win in Durban a week later - and is determined to inspire a turnaround in fortunes for his side against their old rivals.
The Crusaders' No.10 underlined his undoubted class with a last-minute penalty to beat Australia on his All Blacks return in Sydney last month and will anchor a new-look All Blacks' backline at the Waikato Stadium.
A worrying injury list means that Stephen Donald - who played at fly-half for the previous two defeats to the Springboks - will line-up at the relatively unfamiliar position of inside centre for New Zealand but Carter has played down fears about the untried combination.
"Nothing much changes for myself ... but now we have two five-eighths. If one of gets caught up, the other one will slot in," Carter said. "Obviously I am used to calling the moves and things like that which I will continue to do this weekend.
"Having someone like Stephen there, he's grown as a player and he provides a lot of options as well. I will keep encouraging him to talk and communicate and hopefully it will go well."
Saturday's match will see Carter take on South Africa's Morne Steyn for the first time on the international stage. The Bulls star set a Springboks record when scoring all 31 points in their Kings Park drubbing of the All Blacks last month but Carter could also re-write the record books this weekend. He sits on 326 Tri-Nations points, just behind the 328 of an All Blacks fly-half predecessor, Andrew Mehrtens in the all-time ranks.
Carter has looked sharp from the moment he returned with Canterbury two months ago and he will have taken heart from the problems Wallabies No.10 Matt Giteau created for the Springboks defence in Brisbane.
"I wouldn't say I am in prime form but I am happy enough with the standard I am playing," he said. "To have such a long layoff like I did, it is going to take time. But the main thing is I am enjoying it and always looking to improve."
Leading all-time scorers in Tri-Nations: