Another leg injury for Carter
Christchurch - All Black flyhalf Dan Carter's final Super Rugby season began with a rocky start as the 32-year-old appeared to suffer another leg injury in the Crusaders' surprise 20-10 loss to the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.
The injury will no doubt send shivers down the spine of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who is counting on the flyhalf being a big part of his plans for their World Cup defence in England later this year.
Carter has also already said he will leave New Zealand rugby after the conclusion of the World Cup to take up a three-year contract with France's Racing Metro.
He barely played at all last year due to a sabbatical and then a broken leg and while he went into contact willingly and made several tackles on Friday he appeared to still be shaking out the rust that blighted his end-of-season tour with the All Blacks last year.
The 102-Test veteran then suffered the injury in his lower right leg in about the 56th minute when he stretched for a high wayward pass and shanked his clearing kick.
Carter was visibly hobbling and spoke to team doctor Deb Robinson at length but continued to play, which cost his side a try to Nick Stirzaker when the flyhalf made a poor kick and the scrumhalf pounced on the ball and sprinted 45m to give his side a 20-10 lead with about 15 minutes remaining.
Rebels fullback Mike Harris added 10 points from the boot for the visitors, while massive lock Lopeti Timani scored a first half try.
Carter slotted one penalty and converted hooker Ben Funnell's try but was eventually replaced in the 74th minute when it was apparent he could not run with any freedom.
Carter's injury overshadowed a scratchy performance from the seven-times champions and last year's beaten finalists who had numerous errors in accuracy, handling and decision-making that left many of the 13 518 crowd frustrated at their inability to convert their opportunities into points.