After making a return from an Achilles tendon strain, Dan Carter has suffered a partial rupture on the same injury and now faces up to six months out of the game.
The 26 year old All Black playmaker was injured in the final stages of Perpignan’s 13-13 draw with Stade Francais in the Top 14 clash in front of 79,122 fans at the Stade De France.
After paying 700,000 Euros for his services for six months; the French club now must resign themselves to the fact that the famous blood and gold jersey has been pulled on by the 2006 IRB World Player of the year for the last time.
He was pivotal in the performance, as Perpignan had trailed Stade with just eight minutes remaining by ten points. Carter has just kicked a penalty to level the scores before he went down innocuously in a seemingly innocent tackle.
He had already missed three weeks of action with the left leg strain, but despite doing wonders for Perpignan’s marketing and selling of Carters number ten jerseys, the sizable investment for his services will now end.
His on field contribution to the club was 45 points and 361 minutes of rugby.
This equates to the Cantabrian earning approximately 2,000 Euro’s for each minute played.
If he had stayed fit till the end of the season, he would have played 20 games for the club. Essentially Perpignan has lost 75 percent of the match value of their prized asset.
It is likely that Carter will now miss at least the home internationals test matches before the Tri Nations, and may even miss the beginning of that campaign.
Carter will now essentially re-enter the All Blacks fold on reputation alone, with no opportunity to play himself into form except perhaps for club rugby. With the rehabilitation of the injury a sometimes complex one, even when passed fit the All Black management team may be unwilling to risk their prized asset until he can gain match fitness via non test matches.
He will be assessed by the Top 14’s medical teams, and it is likely that the NZRU may involve themselves in the medical consultations to assess whether or not he should have surgery in France or back in New Zealand.
So while the injury will not be viewed favourably, it could ultimately benefit Canterbury rugby. Another option would be to introduce him back to international rugby via the Junior All Black brand.
However, as unfortunate as the injury is, not all will view this as a bad thing.
A massive door has now been opened for Stephen Donald, currently Carters “official” understudy. If he continues his development and his form does not suffer, the injury all but confirms that the Waikato standoff will now start at least the first four tests of the international season.
It also means that if Donald fails to impress this season, that a host of young New Zealand number tens now have an opportunity to win a 2009 black jersey.
The incumbent “understudy”
Stephen Donald, 25 years old, Waikato, nine tests—first class debut Counties 2002
A product of New Zealand’s age grade system, he has risen through the ranks, cementing his position last year with a strong season with the chiefs and not playing in a losing All Black team. Player of good ball and kicking skills, without yet the poise associated with Carter
Third in line to the throne
Stephen Brett, 23 years old, Canterbury, zero tests—first class debut Canterbury 2005
Bret rose to prominence with Crusaders in 2007 due to Carters absence with the reconditioning program. He is an excellent running player, still developing his kicking game; not a true specialist, playing fullback and second five.
Willie Ripia, 22 years old, Wellington, zero tests—first class debut Waikato 2006
Displaced Jimmy Gopperth as Wellingtons first choice first five in last year’s Super 14 for the last four games. Compared in style to Carlos Spencer due to his unorthodox running and kicking style. Idolises Stephen Larkham and has been earmarked as a future international
Daniel Bowden, 22 years old, Otago, zero tests—first class debut Northland 2005
Has had a poor run with injury in recent years, but when fit is an outstanding defensive player and a natural ball player, another product of the age grade system
Colin Slade, 21 years old, Canterbury, zero tests—first class debut Canterbury 2008
Coming off the Canterbury Boys High school production line, was exemplary in guiding Canterbury from pivot towards their 2008 ANZC triumph. Compared loosely to Andrew Mehrtons and has a magnificent kicking game