Dan Carter delighted to be back at helm
Sportal.co.nz 08 Jun 2012 Getty Images
And the good news that there are no lingering niggles from the injury, he pulled up fine after his last game with the Crusaders and was looking forward to the weekend.
"One of my goals once I got injured and got over the disappointment was to make sure I get back in the black jersey and this weekend I have got that opportunity so I'm very excited about that as I've been working very hard to get to this position," he said.
"But that's only a start. I want to play well in that black jersey. The first Test match of the year is always really exciting so I can't wait for Saturday night. It's going to be right up there in terms of feeling for me," he said.
Motivation wasn't hard for the job at hand because world champion status meant teams were going to be coming for the All Blacks.
"It's hard so we want to make sure we improve our standards from last year, they were really high so we are working hard and rebuilding."
Carter said he was happy with the type of pass he had been getting in practice from new halfback Aaron Smith and acknowledged that he had a good running game to complement his passing game.
"He's very nippy around the breakdowns so I'm sure, he's really excited, that he will have a fantastic game," he said.
Helping Smith around in his first Test would also be important as the nine-10 partnership was crucial and they needed to know each other's play inside and out.
"I think once we are out there we just need to talk a lot and have great communication and continue to tell each other what we want so hopefully he doesn't find me too bossy but I'll be in his air trying to help him have the game of his life," he said.
Carter wanted Smith to play it as he sees it and to play the way he had been all year because he's been in fine form.
Sonny Bill Williams outside Carter had improved immensely this year and was moving towards being classed a world-class player.
"It's great to see and I'm looking forward to reuniting that combination with him that we built throughout the Crusaders and a few games for the black jersey last year as well so I've been really impressed with the way he's been playing this year and I'm sure he'll step up even more," he said.
And while the Crusaders had been firing well over the last few weeks, he had taken some confidence from that, but it was a case of 'parking that' because playing for the All Blacks was a completely new environment and challenge and that meant uniting as one New Zealand combination.
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