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Carter lines up Barrett

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Sportal.co.nz     09 Jul 2013     Getty Images

The Crusaders, now assured of a place in the Super Rugby play-offs, confront the Hurricanes in the final preliminary round at AMI Stadium, Christchurch, on Friday night and Carter will square off with talented Beauden Barrett.

Despite fleeting second-half appearances for the All Blacks in the three-test series against France Barrett delivered quality performances, scoring spectacular late tries in the second and third tests.

Carter appreciates the skills Barrett possesses, but that only serves to bring out the best in the Crusaders pivot who will play his 121st game for the seven-time champions on Friday.

"Beaudy is a great player and has shown what he's capable of at international level as well," Carter said at Crusaders training on Monday.

"He's in fine form and is a key member of the Hurricanes side so we have to make sure we shut down his time and space and that he's not getting over the advantage line too easily. He's got great all-round skills with his kicking and running game."

Those words may well be true, but Barrett was found wanting on defence as the Hurricanes succumbed to the Highlanders in a high-scoring free-for-all in Wellington on Saturday and the Crusaders may look to expose that flaw again.

"We'll have a good look at that on Wednesday and at the way they defend the areas we want to attack," Carter said. "Potentially that inside channel might be one."

Barrett, however, is not the only targeted man for the Hurricanes have some classy players from Julian Savea and Conrad Smith out wide to Jeremy Thrush, Dane Coles and Ben Franks up front.

"They've got some game-breakers and some very experienced players alongside their youth who are playing well. So they're a well-balanced side who have nothing to lose and will throw the ball around." Carter said.

"I thought the Highlanders played well but the Hurricanes showed great belief to give themselves a fighting chance and were unlucky not to take it away at the end. They're a dangerous side who can score plenty of tries if your defence is not on song."