A ‘tight calf’ has prevented Dan Carter from potentially making his highly-anticipated Blues debut in Saturday’s Super Rugby Aotearoa clash with the Hurricanes.
Carter was set to play off the bench and cover both flyhalf and fullback, but Blues coach Ian MacDonald said they had no hesitation to withdraw the legendary former All Black from consideration after he felt his calf tighten during a physical Thursday training session.
‘Dan pulled up a little bit tight. It’s nothing too major, but we want to make sure we don’t risk anything with Dan. If you get on top of calves early, they can be a couple of days to come right. If you get on to it a little bit later, it can be three, four weeks. It makes sense just to look after it.’
MacDonald added that although Carter was raring to go after a recent club rugby hit-out, they needed to ‘err on the side of caution’.
‘He’s been training the house down and he’s pretty determined,’ said the Blues coach. ‘He wants to get into the campaign and is pretty hungry to get out there. He hasn’t played rugby in New Zealand at this level for a long time and it felt like the time was right to get him in there.
‘We’ve said right from the start we’ll do the right thing by him, though. He is an older athlete and we’ve got to manage him a little differently than most. If he was 23 we probably would have said he’s good to go. But at 30-something we’ll err on the side of caution.’
It means there are just minimal changes for the Blues, with Aaron Carroll coming into the back row, while hooker Kurt Eklund and wing Emoni Narawa both earn starts.
Blues – 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie; 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Aaron Carroll, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: 16 Tolai Luteru, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 TJ Faiane, 23 Matt Duffie.
Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz