The Crusaders are likely to welcome fly-half Dan Carter back into their starting line-up for next week's clash with the Force in Perth.
The Crusaders are likely to welcome fly-half Dan Carter back into their starting line-up for next week's clash with the Western Force in Perth.
The All Black playmaker was absent for the two-game tour of South Africa due to the birth of his first child and was sorely missed in the Crusaders' 21-17 loss to the Sharks.
Tyler Bleyendaal stood in for Carter and gave a man-of the-match performance against Stormers at Newlands but his poor goal-kicking was a key element in the defeat in Durban.
Coach Todd Blackadder has hinted that Carter will slot straight back into the run-on side when he links up with the team in Perth.
But while Blackadder is keen to get Carter back in the mix, the coach suggested his return might not be a straight swap in the 10 jersey.
“There's a good possibility he could start, but if there's any injuries and niggles we could contemplate a shift,” said Blackadder of Carter's potential switch to inside centre.
“We'll have to look at the overall fitness of the squad, it's too early to say just yet but DC will be fresh and keen to play. With his calibre – and he is playing so well – we will definitely look to use him.
“Tyler played really well. He really stood up and got us around the field. Obviously he will be disappointed with his goalkicking because we couldn't turn that pressure into points,”
Crusaders stand-in captain George Whitelock said that his team would have to improve their discipline after being on the wrong end of the penalty count in South Africa.
“We were our own worst enemy; we made mistakes in our own half and the Sharks pounced on them with three points,” he said.
“Once we got those (early) points we let them off the hook with bad discipline and Patrick Lambie didn't miss a beat all night. He just kept the scoreboard ticking over.
“Our scrum in the second half was disappointing; at crucial times we got penalised.
“We were really disappointed that we were in that game and we really felt that we let ourselves down by not playing in that second half.”
Blackadder said his team's margin for error was narrowing if they hoped to make the play-offs.
“It's going to come down to the wire. There will be twists and turns – there's still a long way to go. But it shows you have to be up for Super Rugby week-in and week-out and really nail those opportunities or you rue them down the track,” said Blackadder.