Carter to miss Wales Test
Dan Carter injured (Gallo Images)
Cardiff - Even the absence of superstar flyhalf Dan Carter shouldn't prevent New Zealand from running away with a 25th straight test victory over beleaguered Wales on Saturday.
Carter, the world's best No 10, pulled up in clear discomfort after kicking a ball during a training session on Thursday and was replaced in the starting lineup by Aaron Cruden.
While it was another cruel injury blow for Carter, his team is unlikely to be unsettled as the All Blacks look to maintain their 59-year unbeaten record against the Welsh.
Wales has lost its last five internationals, with labored displays against Argentina and Samoa this month provoking the frustration of a passionate home crowd and leaving a proud rugby nation fearing the worst this weekend.
"I don't have too much sympathy for them - I am in the opposition camp these days!" said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen , who led Wales in 2002-04. "But what it does do is make them tighter. Invariably, when they get criticised, they get tighter. It will make them more dangerous, I think.
"I am not taking too much notice of their recent form."
Wales is the reigning Six Nations champion and reached the semifinals of last year's World Cup, showing they have the credentials to give New Zealand a challenge on their day.
But lately they have showed a lack of confidence, form and wit, conceding five tries this month while scoring only one, from an interception.
These current All Blacks have gone 19 tests without defeat and are attempting to create a "legacy," according to winger Cory Jane. The likelihood is they could run through the Welsh, like the world champions have done against Scotland (51-22) and Italy (42-10) this month.
"People talk about a World Cup hangover this year, but we are proud to play for the All Blacks, and every time we go out on the field we don't want to play badly," Jane said.
Warren Gatland, a New Zealander, is back in charge of Wales after handing over coaching duties to his assistant Rob Howley for the last five tests.
Gatland was recovering from breaking both heels in a fall as Wales lost 3-0 to Australia in a June test series, while he has been attending to British and Irish Lions business over the past two weekends.
His return should galvanize the Welsh but injuries to Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate, Alun-Wyn Jones and, this week, George North leaves them without four of their best players.
Saturday could turn into a damage-limitation exercise for Wales.
"They are the one side you measure yourself against. They are the world champions, the ones you want to beat," assistant coach Robin McBryde said.
"We have not only focused on New Zealand this autumn, but you know it takes something extra, something special, to match the All Blacks and to beat them."
New Zealand is back to full strength after rotating its squad for the Scotland and Italy games.Teams:
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 James Hook, 23 Scott WilliamsNew Zealand:
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ben Smith