FIRST FIVE Dan Carter is set to be rested when the All Blacks head to South Africa next week.
The squad for the test against the Springboks at Port Elizabeth won’t be announced until Friday.
However, coach Graham Henry indicated that a group of senior players will be left behind and it is understood that Carter is one of them.
It was strongly suggested by Henry himself that Colin Slade would start the match at first five.
"Colin Slade has played well, he's been impressive when he's played. It was a little gem last week against South Africa,” he says.
"But at some stage he has to run the cutter and this may be his chance."
Whether that means Carter will be given a rest remains to be seen, but it does pose the question as to who will provide back-up first five cover on the bench if he is wrapped in cotton wool.
Piri Weepu is the only option, having played there from time to time for the Hurricanes and Wellington, and hinted this could be a possibility.
Henry confirmed that cup spots remain up for grabs just two weeks before the final squad is named in Brisbane on August 23.
"We have to finalise that and there are still some areas where people need to produce. It seems ridiculous but that's the facts."
Tony Woodcock will return to international duty after being sidelined with a foot injury, but Sitiveni Sivivatu will not be traveling after fracturing his eye socket during the 30-14 win over the Wallabies.
He is, however, likely to be fit for the return match in Brisbane on August 27.
Centre Richard Kahui (hamstring), fullback Israel Dagg (quadricep) and utility Isaia Toeava, who played for Auckland without incident yesterday, will all travel if fit.
Kahui will turn out for Waikato against Canterbury on Wednesday, and Dagg made a successful return for his club side on Saturday and will fly out separately after playing again for Hawke's Bay this weekend.
Prop John Afoa is likely to be fit to travel after making a "nine out of 10" recovery from the fractured cheek bone suffered against South Africa.
Sivivatu’s impressive form on the wing has put pressure on Hosea Gear, who was tidy, but saw limited action at Eden Park at the weekend.
He will get the chance to push his claims on Wednesday, when he plays for Wellington.« Back to Articles
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.