Cruden to start Test after Carter injury
Second Test matchwinner Dan Carter will miss the final Test against Ireland after injuring a hamstring in training.
Carter’s replacement by Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden is one of six changes to the All Blacks team for Saturday’s Test in Hamilton, which also sees a debut for Crusaders lock Luke Romano and a recall for Chiefs flanker Liam Messam.
Carter’s field goal with a minute remaining secured a 22-19 victory over Ireland in Christchurch last weekend but it will be his final act of the series after he hurt his hamstring in training on Tuesday.
“He will undergo further assessment over the next few days to determine when he will be fit to return to rugby,” All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said.
Carter’s absence will no doubt give Ireland more confidence in their quest for a first victory over the All Blacks after 108 years but Cruden filled in well for Carter at the World Cup and has been in good form for the Chiefs.
Messam’s recall came following concussion suffered by No.8 Kieran Read in the second Test.
The loose forward trio has been reshuffled as a result, with Richie McCaw shifting to No.8, Sam Cane starting at openside flanker and last week’s starting blindside flanker Adam Thomson moving to the bench.
Romano is included at the expense of Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick, who moves to the bench.
The other changes see wingers Julian Savea and Zac Guildford replaced by Hosea Gear and Ben Smith, with Tamati Ellison added to the bench as an outside back cover.
Hooker Keven Mealamu returns from injury to the bench, while Hurricanes five-eighth Beauden Barrett could make his Test debut after being selected as a substitute.
Hansen said the narrow victory over Ireland had been a tough, high-pressured match and the All Blacks would need similar composure and character to prevail again.
“They have laid down a challenge and the key will be now how we respond.”
© AAP 2013
All Blacks team to play Ireland: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Hosea Gear, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Richie McCaw, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Brodie Retallick, Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Beauden Barrett, Tamati Ellison.
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