Hansen explains Carter snub

2014-11-06 18:45
Dan Carter (AFP)

London - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has ignored star fly half Dan Carter's claims for a spot in a revamped side to face England on Saturday, instead entrusting Aaron Cruden as playmaker in the Twickenham cauldron.

Hansen made 10 changes to the run-on side that romped to a 74-6 win over the United States last week, bringing back veterans including skipper Richie McCaw for the toughest Test of New Zealand's northern hemisphere tour.

But there was no room even among the world champions' replacements for Carter, the world's leading Test point scorer, who played half an hour off the bench against the Americans after returning from a string of injuries.

Hansen denied he was wrapping the 32-year-old in cotton wool because he was scared of exposing his prize asset to a tough England outfit, saying Carter was simply not ready for a Test of such intensity at this stage of his comeback.

"Dan's fitness is fine, he just hasn't played enough rugby yet to play in a match like this," he said.

Hansen told a subsequent news conference in London: "He's only had 30 minutes, (against the US), we don't think he's ready."

Asked how Carter had responded to being left out, Hansen replied: "Pretty good. He's a team first, individual second, guy like the rest of them and he's not stupid. He knows his own body, he knows what the expectations are and he was good."

Hansen said he also wanted to persist with Cruden's combination with Sonny Bill Williams, who completed his return from rugby league against the Americans last week, after the pair worked well together in Chicago.

"We've seem them against lesser opposition so now we want to see them against some quality opposition," he said.

Saturday's match will take place at Twickenham, the venue for the 2015 World Cup final and Hansen said his squad were relishing their latest match at the south-west London venue.

"Twickenham is one of the great rugby grounds, isn't it?

"You get the old song (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot), that's getting plenty of ear time at the moment. That's part of the history of English rugby. The drive-in is always good because you get a few people booing you.

"It's a good surface to play on now and the stadium now, it holds 83 000, that's what you want to when you play rugby, you want to play in the big stadiums and be challenged," added former Wales coach Hansen.

"Twickenham is always one of those places that does that, so we are looking forward to it."

And Hansen said his side would not be distracted by thoughts of the World Cup this weekend, even though it's now just 10 months until New Zealand start the defence of the title they won on home soil in 2011.

"It's not far away is it, you can just about reach out and touch it," Hansen said. "You've got to start narrowing your focus and planning.

"It's not at the front of my mind but not at the back. We've got a job to do on Saturday that's got nothing to do with the World Cup."


15 Mike Brown, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8-Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe MarlerSubstitutes: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 George Kruis, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 George Ford, 23 Anthony Watson

New Zealand:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Liam Messam, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ryan Crotty

Read more on:    all blacks  |  dan carter  |  steve hansen  |  rugby

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