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Dan Carter

Ewen McKenzie

EWEN MCKENZIE: ‘‘Steve has got lots of thoughts. I enjoy reading his thoughts. Last week he was picking the team. This week he’s wondering about our improvement.”

This time, Ewen McKenzie couldn’t bite his tongue.

Two weeks in a row All Blacks coach Steve Hansen fired barbs his way – the first about the Australian Rugby Union influencing Kurtley Beale’s selection and this week questioning how much more the Wallabies had to give.

Before yesterday, McKenzie wasn’t biting. But, finally, the Wallabies coach couldn’t help throwing out one subtle jab.

“Steve has got lots of thoughts. I enjoy reading his thoughts,” McKenzie began.

“Last week he was picking the team. This week he’s wondering about our improvement. We’ll just concentrate on what we’re about. That worked alright for us last week.”

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The past few years has seen Rugby’s world be dominated by one group of Villains that we have come to respect, hate, admire, deride, sledge and applaud. Let’s take a look at these Bad Guys and their alter-egos – whilst not forgetting that most of these guys eventually get their comeuppance. – Enjoy!

 

15. Ben Smith -Keyser Soze – The usual Suspects
Keyser Soze

Keyser Soze – The Usual Suspects

This is one of those moments where we are lulled into a false sense of security. The guy looks harmless enough and seems to melt into the background when surrounded by other more unsavory types. But it is with the Big reveal that things unfold and the manipulator truly emerges.

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Colin Slade

Colin Slade, drafted into the All Blacks squad to replace Dan Carter, who is injured.

Colin Slade has been called into the All Blacks as injury cover for Dan Carter.

Carter fractured the fibula bone in his right leg during last weekend’s Super Rugby final loss to the Waratahs in Sydney and would be sidelined for one month. He would miss at least the first two Bledisloe Cup tests.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

All Black flyhalf Dan Carter will be sidelined for at least half of New Zealand’s Rugby Championship campaign after cracking a fibula in last weekend’s Super Rugby Final.

Carter left the field during the Crusaders’ 32-33 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney after an injury to his lower leg, which the franchise said was a hairline crack to the bone which would need at least four weeks to heal.

“A scan has revealed a small crack in his upper fibula. The size of the crack meant it was not originally picked up by an X-ray and required a scan to locate it,” the Crusaders said.

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New ZealandStar flyhalf Dan Carter has been returned to the All Blacks squad for this season’s Rugby Championships against Australia, South Africa and Argentina at the expense of his Crusaders’ teammate Colin Slade.

Carter, the world’s leading points-scorer in tests with 1,440, missed New Zealand’s June test matches against England while on a seven-months “sabbatical” from rugby during which he toured the world, attending events such as this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

The 32-year-old returned to the Crusaders squad for its most-recent matches in Super Rugby, including Saturday’s semifinal against the Sharks, but has been playing at inside center to allow Slade to continue at flyhalf.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter’s calm presence was crucial for the Crusaders as they set about dismantling the Sharks.

Dan Carter, refreshed after his break away from the game and energised by his performance against the Sharks and the opportunities of the week ahead, is promising more.

The All Blacks No10, excelling in his role at second-five for the Crusaders outside Colin Slade, expects an improvement from his team for the final against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday night, and, just as importantly for a winner-takes-all match, better accuracy from his goalkicking.

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Richie McCaw & Nemani Nadolo

STILL GOT IT: Crusaders and All Blacks veteran Richie McCaw celebrates a great night for the franchise with Fijian flier Nemani Nadolo.

New Zealand exhales. Turns out rumours of the decline of Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter have been greatly exaggerated.

McCaw and Carter both produced timely high-quality performances in Christchurch tonight as the Crusaders won through to their 11th – yes, 11th – Super Rugby final with a 38-6 dismantling of the Sharks. The Red ‘n Blacks are now 80 minutes away from their eighth championship – but notably a first since 2008.

On a night when Kieran Read illuminated the big occasion with a stellar demonstration of his remarkable quality, and Fijian find of the year Nemani Nadolo was equally as destructive, the old soldiers McCaw and Carter were not a million miles off the standard set by the best player in the world.

With Read, this sort of stuff is as predictable as it is enjoyable. He is a colossus of the game completely at the peak of his powers. His every minute on the field these days is to be savoured.

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Kieran Read

Kieran Read

Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg

Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo

Kieran Read, Dan Carter, Israel Dagg and Nemani Nadolo all return to the starting line-up for the Crusaders this weekend when they take on the Blues at AMI Stadium.

They are four of six new faces in the starting 15.

In the forwards, Ben Funnell and Owen Franks have taken starting spots in place of Corey Flynn and Nepo Laulala, who will be ready to inject some energy off the bench.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Kieran Read

Kieran Read

The stage is set for Dan Carter and Kieran Read to take command of the Crusaders for the final rocky weeks of Super Rugby, but coaching staff are cagey about the duo’s prospects of starting against the resurgent Blues.

All Blacks flyhalf Carter, working his way back after a six-month sabbatical, and number eight Read came off the bench in the second half against the Hurricanes on Saturday but were powerless to stop their side falling to a 16-9 defeat.

The disappointing loss in Wellington has prompted calls for the pair to be thrown straight in against the Blues, who re-ignited their season with a confidence-boosting rout of the Western Force last week.

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Crusaders

Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has named his team to play the Hurricanes this weekend. The team will head to Wellington on Friday to prepare for the game at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

Eight players have returned from the All Blacks to make the team, including prop Wyatt Crockett who will pack down with Corey Flynn and Nepo Laulala in the front row. Owen Franks will provide front row cover alongside Joe Moody and Ben Funnell on the bench.

Locks Dom Bird and Sam Whitelock will pair up in the second row, and Matt Todd will wear the No 7 jersey with Richie McCaw ruled out with a broken rib. Jordan Taufua and Luke Whitelock join him in the loose forwards with Kieran Read and Jimmy Tupou named in the reserves.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Dan Carter has played barely 120 minutes of club rugby since embarking on his sabbatical last November, but he has declared himself available for selection against the Hurricanes.

It is unlikely that the super-star flyhalf will be thrown straight into the mix. If selected, Carter would probably start off the bench.

Colin Slade, who was a member of the All Blacks squad for the recent series against England, is tipped to start at flyhalf Wellington as the Crusaders look to consolidate their position at the head of the New Zealand conference.

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New ZealandIt was not the perfect weekend for the All Blacks, with France running them close. This begs the question whether Daniel Carter is still the flyhalf maestro he once was.

All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen, says the All Blacks will be better against England compared to how they went against France.

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New ZealandDan CarterJeff Toomaga-AllenThe End Of Year Tours (Autumn Internationals) starts this coming weekend and this week we should see a lot of news in preparation of these Tours. The New Zealand NPC is over, the South African Currie Cup has a new Champion, now the International stage lights up again!

The New Zealand All Blacks believe Dan Carter will be ready to face Japan and has also sent an S.O.S. call to prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen as cover for Joe Moody who was injured in the NPC Final.

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New ZealandFlyhalf Daniel Carter will return to the New Zealand side for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina after recovering from a calf strain, while centre Francis Saili will make his test debut.

The 31-year-old Carter had been expected to play the first Rugby Championship match against Australia in Sydney last month but pulled up with the injury at training and missed the return fixture in Wellington.

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Dan CarterBeauden BarrettMa'a NonuThe All Blacks look set to welcome back star flyhalf Dan Carter from injury as they returned to training ahead of their Rugby Championship clash with the Pumas next weekend.

The bulk of the squad – excluding 10 players who were released for provincial duty – reassembled for their first training session in Hamilton on Sunday following a timely week-long break.

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Tom TaylorDan CarterBeauden BarrettThe latest flyhalf injury to hit the All Blacks seems a minor setback for coach Steve Hansen whose major issue appears to be who to cut when all players are fit.

Tom Taylor, New Zealand’s fourth-ranked flyhalf, has been sidelined for three weeks with a rib injury suffered late in Saturday’s 27-16 win over Australia where he made his Test debut with a confident display.

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Dan CarterNew Zealand’s star flyhalf Dan Carter will take an extended break from the game next year to ensure he is fit for the 2015 World Cup.

The 31-year-old, the highest points scorer in international rugby, is under contract with New Zealand until the end of 2015.

However, like All Black captain Richie McCaw – who sat out the first six months of this year – Carter has a clause allowing him to take a sabbatical.

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A sold out Murrayfield witnessed nine tries as the world champions, New Zealand, saw off the challenge of Scotland in the first of the EMC Tests. 

Two tries from Tim Visser and one from Geoff Cross were not enough to hold off the might of the visitors, with head coach Andy Robinson immediately turning to the challenge of South Africa, the second in the November series.

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