Carter wrapped in cotton wool
Auckland - Dan Carter is set to be wrapped in cotton wool when the All Blacks head to South Africa next week as coach Graham Henry returns the Springboks' favour in a Rugby World Cup year.
According to the stuff.co.nz website
, Henry won't announce his travelling squad until Friday, but confirmed a group of senior players would be left behind with as few as 24 taken to Port Elizabeth for the Tri-Nations return match.
He indicated strongly that Colin Slade would start the match at flyhalf.
"Colin Slade has played well, he's been impressive when he's played. It was a little gem last week against South Africa," Henry said. "But at some stage he has to run the cutter and this may be his chance."
South Africa sent a 'B' team to Wellington two weeks ago and though the All Blacks won't follow suit, Slade's selection would highlight the tactical nature of the tour party.
New Zealanders would not argue with the rationale for leaving Carter at home and denying the Springboks any chance of hobbling the All Blacks' ace before the World Cup.
Henry confirmed that World Cup spots remain up for grabs just two weeks before the final squad is named in Brisbane on August 23.
"We have to finalise that and there are still some areas where people need to produce. It seems ridiculous but that's the facts."
Meanwhile, centre Richard Kahui (hamstring), fullback Israel Dagg (quadricep) and utility back Isaia Toeava, will all travel if fit.
Prop John Afoa is likely to be fit to travel after making a "nine out of 10" recovery from the fractured cheek bone suffered against South Africa.