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Carter expected to return to face Cheetahs

Dan Carter expected to return this weekend

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Article Published: Monday 19 March 2012|

Crusaders and All Black star Dan Carter is 100% fit and is available to play in the Crusaders first Super Rugby match at their new Stadium which will be against the Cheetahs.

The All Black super star has finally recovered from the groin injury that ruled him out of the Rugby World Cup last year.

Carter's value to the Crusaders cause is so important that coach Todd Blackadder is likely to ease him back in through the bench.

"I think you'd expect Daniel to be in the 22. Whether he starts we still have to make a decision but we are just really pleased that we are going to be able to include him...(he is) more likely to be on the bench to be honest," Blackadder told One Sport.

"He's 100% except for his goal kicking but he just needs to do a little bit more work."

Carter says that he is looking forward to getting back on the field and helping the Crusaders get their campaign back on track after they suffered back to back losses against the Highlanders and the Chiefs.

"I had a good week last week training with the team and got through everything fine and now I'll get another full week under my belt and put myself in contention for selection," he said.

"It will be exciting to get back out on the field again."

Carter said that his only concern was his match fitness having not played in almost six months and he plans to spend more time this week working on his goal kicking as he add strength to his leg.

"I'm lacking match fitness so a full 80 minutes might be a bit tough but I'd love to get back out on the park and get some game time anyway," he said.

"I'm still only kicking at around 50-60% so that is definitely something that I need to work on, the next couple of weeks especially, to get that confidence back and also add some power back into my kicks."

Carter said he is pleased with the progress he has made after many hours of over the summer months but is not concerned about the injury flaring up again.

"There is some sort of general tightness there but I think that is pretty normal but there is no sort of intense pain or anything when kicking which is really positive," he said.

"The fact that I'm pulling up the next day and everything is fine and I'm not having any pains or worries immediately after a kicking session is encouraging."

Coach Blackadder is adamant that Carter was not rushing back to rugby too soon and made it clear that the Crusaders would ease him back in at his own pace whilst managing his workload in a similar way to how Israel Dagg was brought back from a quadriceps injury

"We just managed Israel Dagg over the last month or so of Super Rugby without playing him at fullback and kicking the ball so we expect to do the same with DC," he explained.

Carter said that the Crusaders are hungry to turn around their dip in form and are hugely motivated to ensure their Christchurch Stadium debut coincides with their return to form.

"There is no better way to get our season back on track by returning here to Christchurch to play rugby," he said.

"The guys are very excited. We got to check out the new stadium last week and I think the guys were ready to play then.

"It's just got that sense of feeling. It has been a challenging year and a half, so to be back home in Christchurch and be able to play in front of our people is really exciting and the guys are looking forward to it."

Carter says he is not feeling any personal pressure ahead of his return and does not feel that it is down to him to turn the Crusaders season around.

"No I'm more excited than anything. You just train so much you just want to get out and play and I'm not far away from doing that now which is good," he said.

"I don't know about pressure. I don't think one person is going to make a difference.

"It's things that we do together as a team that is going to turn things around and there is a lot of self-belief within this side that we can do it.

"Being back in this environment has been exciting and I've been able to add my two cents when needed, so with the likes of Richie and myself being out it has sort of been a bit of a challenge, but a lot of guys have stepped up and I'm just looking forward to adding what I can to this team."

"There has been a lot of hard work over the last few months, rehab wise, and the ultimate reward is being able to get back out there and play so with that being so close it is really exciting."

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