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Carter ready to prove himself again
31 Aug 2015 16:04
It would have been inconceivable to many four years ago that two time World Player of the Year Dan Carter would have to prove himself ahead of a World Cup, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen insists rugby's leading points scorer has had to earn his place.
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The 33-year-old had been under immense pressure from younger rivals to perform at test level after an underwhelming two years.
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That pressure was never more evident in July when Lima Sopoaga delivered a strong performance on his debut against South Africa in the All Blacks' late 27-20 win at Ellis Park.
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Carter then looked pedestrian against Australia in New Zealand's 27-19 loss in Sydney earlier this month and pundits began to question whether time and a series of leg injuries had caught up with him.
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"The guy that was probably under the most pressure at that point was Daniel [Carter]," Hansen said in reference to Sopoaga's emergence this season as a genuine contender, along with Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade, for the number 10 jersey.
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Carter responded from the disappointment of Sydney with a big game the following week at Eden Park, with signs that his running game was returning.
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"He came out ... and played his best test match in a number of years against Australia and was telling us he's back in form," Hansen added.
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"His running of the game was great and we had established that Dan was the man we wanted to take, with the uniqueness of the rules of the tournament."
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