Dan Carter has been ruled out of the New Zealand team for today’s Test match against Wales in Cardiff – a boost for the under-pressure home side.
He will be replaced by Aaron Cruden, with Beauden Barrett taking a place on the bench.
Carter, who has won 93 caps, suffered an Achilles injury during training at the University of Glamorgan yesterday. In nine appearances against Wales, he has scored 162 points and never been on the losing side. Carter himself broke the news when he Tweeted a picture of training inside the Millennium Stadium and said: “Gutted not to be playing with these boys in this stadium tomorrow”. Carter’s tweet was followed by confirmation from All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw that Cruden would wear the No 10 shirt.
“It is something you can’t control,” McCaw said. “It is disappointing for Dan, but Aaron has played a few Tests, some pretty big games.”
Cruden, 23, has won 18 caps, and he has yet to taste defeat in an All Blacks shirt. He was called into the All Blacks squad during last year’s World Cup as replacement for an injured Carter, who damaged his groin during training. Cruden went on to start the All Blacks’ semi-final victory over Australia in Auckland, and then started the final against France before he was forced off just before half-time due to a knee problem.
Meanwhile, Bradley Davies has underlined the standard Wales must reach in their quest for a stunning triumph over adversity against the world champions. The odds are not so much stacked against last season’s World Cup semi-finalists and RBS Six Nations title winners, but in danger of engulfing them. It is hard to remember the last time Wales found themselves written off as a distant 6-1 chance to win at home.
But that is where they stand after an autumn of discontent riddled by two poor performances, two dire results and a crippling injury list. The dust has still not settled following losses against Argentina and Samoa, defeats that have left Wales clinging to a place among the world’s top eight teams. If the All Blacks claim their anticipated Millennium Stadium success today – and then Australia win in Cardiff seven days later – Wales are likely to enter next month’s 2015 World Cup pool draw as a third-tier participant. “You don’t become a bad team because of two bad performances,” said second row forward Davies.
“We have had a lot of success in the last 12 to 14 months and we just want to get back to winning ways.”
Wales: L Halfpenny (Cardiff); A Cuthbert (Cardiff), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff), L Williams (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); P James (Bath), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff), L Charteris (Perpignan), R Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff, capt), T Faletau (Dragons). Subs: K Owens (Scarlets), G Jenkins (Toulon), S Andrews (Cardiff), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Knoyle (Scarlets), J Hook (Perpignan), S Williams (Scarlets).
New Zealand: I Dagg; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, J Savea; A Cruden, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, L Romano, S Whitelock, L Messam, R McCaw (capt), K Read. Subs: D Coles, W Crockett, C Faumuina, B Retallick, V Vito, P Weepu, B Barrett, B Smith.
Referee: C Joubert (SA).