All Blacks want Carter to find his old running game

Pressure is building on Dan Carter to reignite his running game ahead of the
Rugby World Cup after a season of playing mostly in the midfield.

Carter feature in this year’s Super Rugby season mostly with the number 12
on his back but has now resumed his position as the All Black number 10 for
this week’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.

The world’s leading point scorer played last week in the 10 jersey but the
All Blacks delivered a sluggish performance in Apia against Samoa.

The Argentina clash in Christchurch opens the fourth edition of The Rugby Championship,
a tournament the All Blacks have always won and in which they have an impressive
record of 16 wins, one draw and one loss from 18 games.

South Africa, the second most successful team, travel to Brisbane to play Australia
on Saturday in the other opening round match of a tournament which this year
loses some lustre to the bigger prize of the World Cup.

All four coaches will be juggling combinations through the southern hemisphere
competition to best prepare for the global tournament in England in September-October.

With Argentina fielding a renowned forward pack, conditions are ripe for a
tense, tight battle in temperatures expected to be around freezing point.

But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is keen to see Carter, the world’s leading
Test points scorer, up the pace of the game and bring more variety to his play.

Carter won the world player of the year award when his peerless running game
helped the All Blacks trounce the British and Irish Lions 3-1 in their 2005
Test series.

It is part of his game that has drifted off in recent years and if the All
Blacks telegraph anything before the World Cup it will be Hansen’s drive to
bring it back.

“I think he can create more danger by carrying and once he gets that back
into his game then he’s a very, very dangerous attacker because he can carry,
he can pass and he can kick,” Hansen said.

The All Blacks have made six changes to the side that under-performed against
Samoa last week, including the introduction of wing Waisake Naholo, the top
try scorer in Super Rugby this year.

Naholo and fellow wing Julian Savea run off the end of a backline that features
a powerful centres pairing of Ma’a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams outside Carter.

Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade, whose side have only one win at home against
Australia from three years in the competition, fears his team face a backlash
from an All Blacks unit embarrassed by being held to a 16-25 win by Samoa last
week.

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