Carter 'fit and ready'

    2012-03-20 09:46

    Sydney - All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter says he is fit and ready to take his place in the Crusaders side when they play their first match in their home city of Christchurch for nearly two years this weekend.

    The 30-year-old tore a tendon in his groin while practicing kicking during the pool stage of the Rugby World Cup last October and missed New Zealand's triumph on home soil.

    The Crusaders have been unable to play at home since the deadly earthquake in New Zealand's second largest city in February 2011 wrecked their Lancaster Park ground.

    On Saturday, however, the seven-time Super Rugby champions face South Africa's Cheetahs at the new 17 000-seat Christchurch Stadium, hoping to arrest a poor start to the season which has seen them lose two of their opening three matches.

    "There is no better way to get our season back on track by returning to Christchurch to play rugby," Carter told Fairfax media on Tuesday.

    "The guys are very excited. We got to check out the new stadium last week and I think the guys were ready to play then.

    "It's just got that sense of feeling. It has been a challenging year and a half, so to be back home in Christchurch and be able to play in front of our people is really exciting and the guys are looking forward to it."

    Coach Todd Blackadder said Carter, widely rated as the best number 10 in the game, was likely to start on the bench against the perennial strugglers from Bloemfontein.

    "I think you'd expect Daniel to be in the 22," Blackadder said. "Whether he starts, we still have to make a decision but we are just really pleased that we are going to be able to include him.

    "He's 100 percent except for his goal kicking but he just needs to do a little bit more work."

    Carter is the leading points scorer of all time in test rugby but conceded he was not yet firing on all cylinders in the kicking aspect of his game.

    "I'm lacking match fitness so a full 80 minutes might be a bit tough but I'd love to get back out on the park and get some game time anyway," he said.

    "I'm still only kicking at around 50-60 percent so that is definitely something that I need to work on to get that confidence back and also add some power back into my kicks."

    The last match the Crusaders played in Christchurch was their final round robin game of the 2010 season, when they beat the Brumbies 40-22.

    Their exile from their home city, which was extended to their first "home" match of this season which they played in Napier, cost them NZ$700 000 ($577 800) in revenue, according to chief executive Hamish Riach.

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