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Carter welcomes extra space

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NZPA     24 Jul 2006     Photosport

One of the stars of New Zealand's 35-17 defeat of the Springboks on Saturday night, first five-eighth Carter predicted a much faster paced affair at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium than the at-times turgid spectacle at Westpac Stadium.

"Australia are a completely different side to South Africa," he said.

"It'll be a tough game over there, they're a pretty confident side after last week (beating South Africa 49-0). It'll be a huge challenge ahead."

The 24-year-old is likely to be reunited with second five-eighth Aaron Mauger this week and the pair are sure to orchestrate a more expansive All Blacks game plan than they could manage on Saturday.

"You talk to the forwards and they probably love these sorts of physical (Springboks) battles. I'm definitely looking forward to next week," he said

"We like to throw the ball around and they (Wallabies) give us a chance to do that with their sliding defence but they do shut it down out wide quite well."

Carter didn't miss any of his nine goalkicks to register 25 points while also setting up their two tries, to halfback Piri Weepu and flanker Richie McCaw, via sizzling breaks from misdirected kicks at the end of each half.

However, even he made a scratchy start, having his first punt charged down by Fourie du Preez to hand the Springboks halfback a try after just 18 seconds.

That try sent an instant message to All Blacks coach Graham Henry that his players weren't completely on song.

They had spoken all week about the Springboks' propensity to charge down kicks, particularly early in the Test before fatigue set in.

One-third the way into the expanded Philips Tri Nations, the All Blacks remain in the box seat with two wins.

Assistant coach Steve Hansen pointed out both had come at home and that playing in Brisbane would be a significant step up.

He was unconcerned that New Zealand looked less impressive in beating South Africa than did Australia, who ran rampant in the 49-0 victory at Suncorp Stadium a week ago.

Hansen said the pattern of recent seasons was that New Zealand struggled to adjust to the intense Springboks style, something that happened again on Saturday.

"What we've got to remember is that South Africa came off a performance last week that they were pretty ashamed of, I'd have thought," he said.

"They came out and were very, very committed in everything they did, it's hard to play against a side that's like that.

"At ruck and maul time they heaved as many people in there as they could get so they could slow the ball down."

Lock Ali Williams was one of several All Blacks happy to critique the performance.

"Not the best game to watch and probably not the best game to play but we had a win and I think that's good coming out of where they've been and their mindset," he said.

Williams wouldn't blame the eight changes -- of whom he was one -- for a lack of cohesion, believing players were capable of "slipping in and out" of test rugby without changing the playing style.

Williams was impressive around the park but whether he has done enough to beat out Jason Eaton as Chris Jack's locking partner at Brisbane remains to be seen.

Henry is likely to go very close to the side who beat the Wallabies 32-12 at Christchurch two weeks ago but was giving little away.

He won't have halfback Piri Weepu (knee) and Sam Tuitupou (second five-eighth) to call on after both left Saturday night's test with injuries which rule them out for at least a week.

Henry railed at a suggestion it was time to field his top 15 after a season dominated so far by player rotation.

"We haven't finalised the first 15. We might not finalise that until 18 months' time (World Cup)," Henry said.

"There's a lot of players of equal ability and we're quite happy to play all those players. It's part of team policy."

Meanwhile, despite the Springboks' improvement, South African media remained unimpressed with its team.

Newspapers and websites highlighted a lack of imagination in their play and the All Blacks' accusations of faking injury.

Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett in The Sunday Times bemoaned how far the team's quality of back play had fallen.