All Blacks play down Carter return

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The Independent Online

Daniel Carter should not be seen as the "cavalry riding over the hill" to save the New Zealand team, says All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith.

Since the talented fly-half returned to rugby action with his Canterbury province at the start of the month after a serious Achilles injury there has been a steadily growing chorus calling for the 27-year-old to be recalled to the All Blacks, particularly in light of their recent poor form.

While fans and pundits have got their wish with the 59-Test pivot called into the All Blacks squad on Monday for the remainder of New Zealand's Tri-Nations campaign, Smith has tried to quell the expectation that Carter can single-handedly lift the team out of the doldrums.

"He is not the cavalry riding over the hill to save us. He is a good player, we know that, but he has just come out of a rehab phase," Smith said.

"It's just right that we have a look at him and we include him in the camp (in Auckland on Wednesday).

"We have got other players there that have been doing well and we have got to be conscious of that as well." Smith did not deny that the return of the Carter would provide a huge fillip for a team that has been roundly criticised for their performances in South Africa which saw them lose on successive weekends to the Springboks after a shaky win against Australia.

"He's a good All Black and he is a big part of our squad. We have wanted to see him back playing the game which is what he is doing now," Smith added.

"He is an experienced player. He's been there before and he has been successful before." But the assistant coach was unsure just what part Carter would play in the upcoming Tri-Nations/Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Sydney in August 22.

"We've basically left him to prepare for the Air New Zealand Cup. We'll get him into camp, have a look at him and have a chat to him," Smith told reporters.

"He will know how he is feeling himself, and we just need to have a look at him and make decisions that are right for the team and right for individuals." Carter will play for Canterbury against Waikato on Friday and coach Graham Henry is expected to announce his 26-man squad for the trip to Sydney on Saturday.

The All Blacks depart for Australia on Sunday.