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Carter misses Stormers clash
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Dan Carter (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Assuming that the Crusaders shun the phenomenon of selling red herrings, and they normally do, then rugby's No 1 pin-up Dan Carter will sit out Saturday's key Super Rugby encounter with the Stormers at Newlands.
Although the talismanic flyhalf was present at a light "cobwebs removal" session, coach Todd Blackadder was surprisingly forthright, for so early in the lead-up week, as he addressed the media pitch-side at their Hamiltons training base in Sea Point on Tuesday.
'He won't be available for this week. Dan's done everything right (in recovery from a hip injury and hamstring niggle), but to put him out there this weekend we'd probably be compromising him.
"We just want him to get through and train all week with the team and hopefully be available for selection next week."
That is when the Crusaders wrap up their South African mini-tour against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Asked how much of a blow it was, given the importance of the almost certainly full-house Newlands match-up, Blackadder said: "We've been without Dan Carter for the last three weeks and Matt Berquist's done a great job ... and I see the Stormers' first-five (Peter Grant) hasn't been available either.
"This is all part of Super Rugby, really - very rarely do you get to put your best XV out on the park at any given time. The guys we have put out have done a fine job and we've got (loose forward) Kieran Read coming back after a two-week break, so we're in a good space."
Blackadder also said powerful front-ranker Ben Franks would not be available for selection against the Stormers.
"The signs are quite encouraging; he's getting better day by day but we won't risk him this week. We'll assess him on Friday to see whether he stays on in South Africa or goes home early to get ready for the Chiefs (on May 21 in Nelson)."
The coach gave a blunt reply when asked by Sport24 how much of a motivator to his team last year's 42-14 reverse to the Stormers, also at Newlands, would be for the latest contest.
"Haven't even talked about it and not interested in it! Last year we came a good second to a very good side and it's a different season."