James Mortimer 05.Sep.2013Getty Images
Carter played in the All Blacks training match at the Hutt Recreation Ground in early August and pulled up tight after the exhibition contests against Wellington and Canterbury, and was ruled out of action for a month with a calf injury.
Missing the first two Tests of the tournament against the Wallabies, Carter also missed the first and second Test of the Steinlager Series against France, and has been happy to get ready in what has been just his second full week of international preparation.
The reigning IRB World Player of the year admitted to allblacks.com it had been tough to miss four Tests in 2013.
“It has been a bit frustrating, not being able to train with the team, I’ve only trained one full week with the team this year (in a Test formation to play), so it hasn’t really worked in my favour,” he said.
“It is a case of getting in amongst it and put my spin on the game, getting involved in the game plan as I haven’t had a chance to get involved with it this year as much as I’d like.”
Driving on Carter is the fact that the meticulous player, holder of point’s scoring records in both Test and Super Rugby, believes he needs to atone for a patchy performance the last time he played, with the Crusaders star not able to put his stamp on the third clash against the French.
“You always want to play well every time you put the black jersey on,” Carter said.
“And I could have played better the last time I did.”
“So I want to do everything I can to put in a good performance, I’m pretty keen to get out there and play. I’ve been working hard all week and am just looking forward to getting back out there.”
However while Carter said it ruefully, he was now used to having to come back from injury, and this time last year in The Rugby Championship Carter came back from a layoff and put in a strong performance against, as the stars would have it, Argentina.
“I’ve been in the same position last year, where we played Argentina and I had missed the last two games with a calf injury,” he said.
“The motivation grows when you sit out a couple of Test matches.”
Carter will reunite with Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith, with both players stressing throughout the week how crucial it was that their partnership blossomed, while outside of him the most capped All Blacks number ten will welcome Francis Saili, New Zealand Test player number 1126, to the back division.
“It’s important to get the combination back with Aaron,” Carter said.
“But I’ll be working pretty closely with Francis. He is on debut, I want to work with him enough so he can get the confidence to just go out there and go out there and play his game.”
“If he does that, I’m sure if he will play well.”