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Carter's Return Could Prove Difference For All Blacks

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Carter's Return Could Prove Difference For All Blacks

By Daniel Gilhooly of NZPA

Hamilton, Sept 11 NZPA - The All Blacks' not-so-secret rugby weapon hopes he can make the difference when his considerable influence in unleashed on the Springboks here tomorrow.

First five-eighth Daniel Carter enhanced his reputation as bona fide superstar with his last-minute penalty goal to beat Australia by one point in Sydney last month.

It boosted New Zealand spirits as well as their Tri-Nations hopes following two emphatic losses in South Africa, tests the 27-year-old missed while he was nearing the end of a lengthy recuperation from an Achilles tendon injury.

He is the only member of tomorrow's two starting 15s not involved in the twin defeats and hoped his contribution could help launch a reversal.

Carter's performance comes in conjunction with the man who wore the black No 10 jersey in his absence, with Stephen Donald to start at second five-eighth for the first time in six years due to injuries to other midfield options.

Mystery surrounds exactly how the pair will co-ordinate the playmaking duties but Carter felt their relationship would be smooth.

"Nothing much changes for myself ... but now we have two five-eighths. If one of gets caught up, the other one will slot in," Carter said.

"Obviously I am used to calling the moves and things like that which I will continue to do this weekend.

"Having someone like Stephen there, he's grown as a player and he provides a lot of options as well. I will keep encouraging him to talk and communicate and hopefully it will go well."

Marking the 60-test veteran is goalkicking ace Morne Steyn, who set a South African record when scoring all 31 points in their drubbing of the All Blacks at Durban last month.

Steyn looked at sea as an attacking force when the Springboks fell behind during last weekend's loss to Australia in Brisbane, suggesting Carter's instincts could provide a key difference between the teams if the forward battle is an even one.

Carter has looked sharp from the moment he returned with Canterbury two months ago and he will have taken heart from the problems Wallabies No 10 Matt Giteau created for the Springboks defence in Brisbane.

"I wouldn't say I am in prime form but I am happy enough with the standard I am playing," he said.

"To have a such long layoff like I did, it is going to take time. But the main thing is I am enjoying it and always looking to improve."

Carter needs to score just three points tomorrow to become the leading points scorer from any country in the 14 seasons of Tri-Nations rugby.

He sits on 326 points, just behind the 328 of an All Blacks first five-eighth predecessor, Andrew Mehrtens.

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