All Blacks gamble on Carter

Star flyhalf Dan Carter will return from injury to play his first Test for the All Blacks since November last year after being named in the team to play the Wallabies on Saturday.

The All Blacks’ team named on Tuesday also sees the selection of Luke McAlister at inside centre ahead of Ma’a Nonu and the dropping of number eight Rodney So’oialo for Kieran Read.

With last month’s win against the Wallabies in Auckland, the All Blacks can clinch the Bledisloe Cup at the weekend, although they would still trail South Africa in the Tri-Nations series.

The 27-year-old Carter, widely rated the world’s best number 10, has been rushed into the team after an indifferent run of Tests from the All Blacks since June, losing once against France and twice against the Springboks.

He resumed playing for his province Canterbury at the start of this month after being sidelined since January with an Achilles tendon injury.

Carter takes over from Stephen Donald, who has played erratically in the crucial flyhalf role.

McAlister has also been in patchy form since resuming his All Black career in June after a two-year stint with Sale in Britain but was preferred over Nonu, who has not been at his line-breaking best so far in the Tri-Nations.

So’oialo, who captained the All Blacks in four Tests last year, has also been off his best since returning for the Tri-Nations after being rested for the June Tests against France and Italy.

Also struggling has been winger Joe Rokocoko but Henry has kept faith with the Fijian-born flyer, retaining him for his 58th test ahead of Cory Jane.

Rokocoko admitted at the weekend he expected to be dropped after his poor showing in South Africa.

With the absence of injured All Black scrumhalf Piri Weepu and hooker Keven Mealamu, Brendon Leonard is reserve scrumhalf behind Jimmy Cowan, and Aled de Malmanche is backup for Andrew Hore.

New ZealandTeam:
Mils Muliaina, Joe Rokocoko, Conrad Smith, Luke McAlister, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock; Aled de Malmanche, John Afoa, Jason Eaton, Rodney So’oialo, Brendon Leonard, Stephen Donald, Ma’a Nonu.

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