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McCaw and Carter pass with flying colours

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James Mortimer     03 Nov 2013     Getty Images

McCaw, who took extended leave earlier this year, hasn’t played anywhere as much rugby as he would like, and was selected to play at number eight.

The move allowed prodigy Sam Cane to get further game time, gave McCaw a chance to stretch his legs, but also allowed the All Blacks to ensure they have a backup player who can run as an eightman.

Kieran Read’s value to the All Blacks has reached the same level as his two Crusaders team-mates, and McCaw’s enthusiasm from the back of the scrum would have been pleasing to the coaching team.

His knee looked sturdy, and his appetite for physical contact looked as high as ever.

“I though Ricko (McCaw) was pretty outstanding,” Steve Hansen said.

“As he normally is,” the All Blacks coach added, with McCaw playing the full match in his 121st Test.

Carter, who has been out of action since being monstered by Bismarck du Plessis, put in a strong performance while testing his physical attributes without any ill effect.

He kicked from the tee and out of hand with no issues, but it was his increasing confidence with ball in hand as the match progressed that would have impressed.

Later in the contest Carter willingly took the ball to the line, almost breaking through the tenacious Japanese defence in the second half.

Carter played 51 minutes before the All Blacks began to empty their bench.

“For Dan, after a long time out of the game with a shoulder injury, he came through really well,” Hansen said.

“I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes next week.”

Despite the burgeoning form of Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett, Carter is expected to start against France.

With Kieran Read and Liam Messam part of the advance party that travelled to Paris, the All Blacks will likely field a totally changed back row against Les Bleus, with McCaw likely to shift back to his preferred position at openside flanker.