Carter confident of starting Tri-Nations clash

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The Independent Online

Dan Carter is confident he is up to starting New Zealand's Tri-Nations Test against Australia in Sydney in just over a week if he is required.

The star pivot, back in the international ranks after a lengthy lay-off with a ruptured Achilles tendon, came through an intense All Blacks training camp in Auckland on Wednesday.

While coach Graham Henry remained tight-lipped on the prospect of the 59-Test veteran slotting back in at number 10, Carter was not shy in declaring his readiness for a Test recall after coming through two Air New Zealand Cup games for Canterbury.

"That's why I'm here. I feel like I'm ready to play at international level again," he said.

"I am lucky with my experience to know what to expect and it is a huge step up from Air New Zealand Cup, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I was ready to play international rugby again.

"I'm hopeful (of starting). To be back in this environment is great but I really want to push to get out on the field (against Australia)," he told reporters.

The All Blacks started the session with a lengthy debrief of the underwhelming trip to South Africa which saw them lose to the Springboks on successive weekends.

Henry revealed there had been a few honest truths rammed home and plenty of soul-searching done.

"When you lose two Test matches and you are not happy with the way you played then you have got to be open, honest and frank about it," the coach said.

The All Blacks' Tri-Nations campaign to date has been a patchy one with issues at the line-out and players struggling to perform even the most basic of skills at times.

There was plenty of work done on the lineout at the session in Auckland, while there was also attention given to work under the high ball and at the breakdown as well.

With just one win - against the Wallabies at Eden Park - from three games in the series so far, the All Blacks will need another positive outcome in Sydney if they are to stand a chance of retaining their crown for another year.

Scrum-half Piri Weepu suffered an ankle injury during training and Henry said they would find out the full extent of the injury in the next 48 hours.

The coach names his 26-man squad for the trip to Sydney on Saturday with the group departing on Sunday.

The team to play the Wallabies will be announced on Tuesday.