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of the Herald on Sunday
It is starting to feel that Dan
Carter s sabbatical might be the last
throw of the dice. His six months
off next year will not have rest and
rehabilitation as the key theme --- it
will be more about reconstruction.
e man many would rightfully
see as the greatest All Black first-
five, possibly even the best No 10
ever, is right now too frail and
vulnerable to make any impact
in test football. He managed 25
minutes at Twickenham, but in
truth, for nearly 20 of those he was
hobbling after damaging himself
when he took the ball into the
It was genuinely sad to see him
denied his big day out. He wanted
so much for his 100th to be
memorable for all the right reasons.
He is such a class act, such a decent
bloke that it just did not seem right
that he would not be able to go the
distance at Twickenham.
But that has become fairly
standard in the last two years to the
extent that it is hard not to feel that
Carter s sabbatical is now way more
important than anyone connected
with the All Blacks would like to
is year has been horrible for
Carter. e training ground has
claimed him a few times and he has
only managed about 150 minutes of
rugby in the last four times he has
For all his seeming natural
athleticism, he is actually not that
well put together. Combine that
with the pounding he has taken in
more than a decade of professional
rugby and maybe it is little wonder
that every bit of him appears either
broken or about to break.
Some of his issues are caused by
age. It is a rotten thing, but happens
to everyone, that bits and pieces
become strangely unreliable after 30
years of service.
A bit of his recent bad luck has
been exactly that: no one is immune
from the vagaries of the sport.
Some of his pulls, strains and cracks
are wear and tear and some of his
dramas are caused by genetics,
biology and physiology.
In a sense, though, the cause
of his injury problems does not
particularly matter. Everyone in the
management of the All Blacks and
Carter himself are now hoping that
time off will sort out his medical
He is so damaged now that it feels
his only hope of fulfilling his World
Cup dream is to rest, rebuild and
somehow come back to rugby with
every problem fixed.
Are his various problems inter-
related? Does protecting one part
of his body lead to him damaging
another. Fix the niggles and fix the
man? Is that going to be the case?
Will his sabbatical be the magic
bullet and see him return to rugby
bigger, stronger, fitter and faster. We
have not seen Carter at his best ---
consistently at his best --- since the
early part of 2011.
ere have been moments since ---
the test against Scotland last year
being the obvious one --- where he
has been his old self.
It has not been enough.
Injury has taken too much out of
him and the upcoming sabbatical
is his chance to fight back and
resurrect his career. --- APNZ
Monday, November 18, 2013
PICTURE: Getty Images
All Black Samuel Whitelock wins lineout ball under pressure from England s
Courtney Lawes in their clash at Twickenham Stadium, in London.
PICTURE: Getty Images
All Black centurions Tony Woodcock, left, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter
and Keven Mealamu.
PICTURES: Nicholas McBride
Gordon McCauley pushes hard past the Strongman Memorial during the
Coast Road Cycle Challenge on Saturday.
Former New Zealand
Road cycle champion
Gordon McCauley pushed
all the way from Westport
to win the Coast Road
Cycle Challenge, despite
suffering a mechanical
failure 15km from the
e five time New
Zealand Road cycle
champion crossed the
line in a winning time of
2:30:01, giving him the
overall win and first place
in the 40-54 veteran one
Second place was a three-
way tie between Jeremy
Crestani of Greymouth,
Cody McMaster of
Christchurch and Rhys Tait
of Westport in a time of
2:31:13 with the trio also
splitting first place in the
18-39 open category.
e 100km event
started with light drizzle
in Westport in a rolling start to
the Buller River bridge with riders
organising themselves into bunches
depending on ability and speed.
e leaders hit speeds of up to 90kph
downhill as they descended into
McCauley broke away from the
chasing trio and by the 10 Mile bridge
extended his lead by two minutes.
However, a mechanical failure at
the Strongman Memorial car park
allowed the three chasers to pass him.
A spirited fightback saw McCauley
catch the trio and overtake them
shortly before the finish.
Event manager Phil Lemon said
due to technical difficulties at the
finish area in town he made the call to
bring the finish line out to last year s
position of Wingham Park.
Last year s winner Sharlotte Lucas of
Hokitika was again succesful, taking
top place in a time of 2:41:44, slicing
five minutes of her previous time.
Corina Wilson of Reefton was second
in 2:50:55 followed by Alice Coombs
of Christchurch in 2:52:21.
In the Punakaiki Express event, two
under-18 riders fought it out with
Greymouth s Ryan O Connor beating
Source to Sea 50km winner Zack
Armstrong of Westport in a time of
Greymouth teen Jennelle van der
Westhuizen was first woman in the
youth section, competing in her first
road cycling event finishing in 1:18:57,
followed by Westport s Shannon
Ruscoe-Carson in 1:36:40.
e Gray brothers of Runanga
were first and second in the 18-39
open men s section with Kerry first in
1:12:41 followed by Justin in 1:21:15.
Greymouth s Lana South won the
18-39 open women s race in a time of
1:16:57, followed by Christchurch s
Karena Robinson, with a time of
1:28:12, and Kelly Shaw of Cobden in
Mr Lemon said he had two
international entrants, including
the first ever tandem entry with
newlyweds on their honeymoon from
Cody McMaster of Christchurch leads Jeremy
Crestani of Greymouth, 51, and Rhys Tait of
Westport past the Strongman Memorial.
McCauley first home in
Coast Road Challenge
It was a test in which Sam
Whitelock proved to be a major
problem solver for the All Blacks,
so it was probably appropriate that
the lock said he could end up as an
answer to more questions in the
Having celebrated his 50th test
in the 30-22 win over England
at Twickenham, Whitelock
acknowledged the milestone would
be well and truly overshadowed
by Dan Carter s 100th. In fact,
he joked he could end up as the
answer to a question on a "beer
bottle top" in the future, as in "who
celebrated his 50th test on the day
Carter celebrated his 100th?". If he
does, it should be a relatively easy
one to answer, because his was a
A major problem for the All
Blacks as they sought, but failed, to
capitalise on a brilliant start to this
test was how to control their own
possession while posing problems
e answer, in the final quarter,
was the lineout, where Whitelock,
jumping at the back, became an
extremely dominant figure, helped
too by the injury to England hooker
Dylan Hartley, who was himself
celebrating 50 caps.
"It started to really come out
quite well and I think that just
shows the (strength of ) the squad
as a whole. We ve got two forward
packs putting pressure on each
other and I think that helps us out,"
"It definitely helps when you can
win your own ball. It helps your
backline attack and at times it is
really good when you come from a
lineout and a couple of phases later
Israel Dagg puts a wee grubber in
and all of a sudden they ve got a
lineout 5m from their line. It helps
us keep the pressure on them."
e breakdown has emerged as a
major area of concern for the All
Last week against France in
Paris they struggled to win the
turnovers they did in the Rugby
Championship and this week they
were penalised time and again by
referee Craig Joubert, who did not
always appear to get it right.
At least for them the scrum, an
area in which England would have
scented blood, was better.
Hansen said: "We started to dig
into their lineout ball --- the quality
of their lineout ball and the few
scrums we had, we started to put
some pressure on them. at was
really pleasing from our point of
view. Mentally we were in front of
a lot of the game and saw our lead
slip away and when that happens
that can pray on your mind but it
didn t. e guys stayed with the
process and stayed connected with
each other and stayed on top."
After last year, it was enough for
Whitelock to get any sort of victory
at a place increasingly important
"I was lucky enough to have my
first start here so Twickenham is
special to my heart," he said.
Injuries threaten Carter s cup dream
comes of age
Manu Vatuvei remains an injury
concern for the Kiwis ahead of
their World Cup semi-final against
England on Sunday morning but
they will not really know how
serious his groin injury is until later
in the week.
e giant winger came off late
in the 40-4 quarter-final win over
Scotland on Saturday with what was
described as a minor groin strain.
It comes on top of the knee injury
which might need surgery once the
tournament is over and the 27-year-
old was hobbling noticeably at the
end of the match.
Second-rower Sonny Bill
Williams was moving freely at the
team s recovery session yesterday
after injuring his neck against the
Scots and manager Tony Iro said he
would be fit to play next weekend.
"Manu s is a new injury but we
aren t sure how serious it is yet," Iro
said. "We will see how he responds
to treatment in the next 48 hours.
We have our first run tomorrow
when we will get a better indication
but, because it s fresh, we won t be
e Kiwis will not want to be
without the matchwinner, who was
excellent against the Scots, but they
are not lacking in options, either.
Jason Nightingale would be the
most obvious replacement if they are
looking for a straight swap but they
might also consider Kevin Locke,
Josh Hoffman and even Bryson
Goodwin, who has been playing at
left centre but who started his NRL
and international careers on the
"Manu is obviously a unique
individual in terms of our wingers
but we have guys who have other
strengths," Iro said.
"I thought Kevin played pretty
well in the weekend and Josh played
14 games on the wing (this season)
for the Broncos and scored a dozen
tries. He s not unfamiliar in that
e battle for the No 1 jersey
between Hoffman and Locke could
go a long way to deciding who plays
on the wing if Vatuvei does not
recover in time. Hoffman looms
as the No 1 choice in the crucial
position but Locke had a good game
there against Scotland and coach
Stephen Kearney has said he still has
not settled on his preference.
e Kiwis stayed away from
England s patchy 34-6 win over
France in Wigan yesterday,
preferring to spend the time
together in camp before relocating
to London overnight.
England impressed at times,
particularly in the first half and on
defence, but were also ragged and
will need to improve considerably if
they are to challenge a New Zealand
side who have improved with each
England coach Steve McNamara
said it was their worst performance
of the tournament, labelling it
"scratchy" and "substandard".
"If we needed a wake-up call, then
that was it," he said.
" e harder we tried, the worse we
got." --- APNZ
Civoniceva is relishing the
prospect of a big finish to
his career after leading Fiji
to a second successive Rugby
League World Cup semi-
e 37-year-old prop,
Australia s most-capped
for ward with 45 appearances,
delayed his retirement in
order to lead his native
country at the tournament
and once more led from
the front as they overcame
Samoa 22-4 in today s fourth
quarter-final at Warrington.
It means Civoniceva will
bring the curtain down on
his career either against the
Kangaroos at Wembley on
Saturday or, if the Fijians
pull off a shock win, at Old
Trafford a week later.
"It was something we didn t
talk about because all our focus
and preparation was on this game
but we can talk about Wembley
now," Civoniceva said after Penrith
centre Wes Naiqama scored 14 of
his side s points in an impressive
"It s great feeling to know that
potentially my last game will be
played at (one of ) two amazing
venues. I feel I ve been very blessed.
I started this rugby league ride in
1998 and to be still here, I feel very
proud of that.
"I m really looking forward to
enjoying the week, taking it all in
with my team-mates."
Fiji dominated today s game at
the Halliwell Jones Stadium from
start to finish, with man-of-the-
match Aaron Groom scoring one
try and setting up another for
Naiqama, who also kicked five
"We didn t play perfectly in every
aspect of the game but to only let
in one try was a massive boost for
us," Fiji coach Rick Stone said.
"I m really proud of the boys.
All our experienced NRL players
stood up for us today."
Samoa s only response was a
58th-minute try from winger
"We didn t play that well but
overall I m happy with the
tournament," Samoa coach Matt
e Fijians comfortable win
not only earned them a second
meeting with the Kangaroos inside
a month but is expected to secure
a place in the 2014 Four Nations
Series in Australia.
"It would be great to get an
invitation to do that," Stone said.
"I ve got a lot of good young
players, both in Fiji and in the
NRL coming through for Fiji."
e lure of a Four Nations spot
will not tempt Civoniceva into
postponing his retirement plans.
"My wife won t let me," he said.
" ey say happy wife, happy life ,
don t they?
"I d definitely love to be a part of
the development of rugby league
in Fiji and mentoring the young
players coming through."
Fiji s meeting with the Kangaroos
--- who demolished the USA
62-0 yesterday --- at Wembley
will follow a Group A clash
between the sides in St Helens a
fortnight ago, when the Kangaroos
triumphed 34-2. Holders New
Zealand will face England in the
other semi-final. --- AAP
Billy Slater s likely World Cup exit has
set the stage for an intense Kangaroos
selection battle between a group of
players who may have thought their
tournament was effectively over.
Slater is almost certain to be ruled
out for the rest of the tournament after
results of scans on his injured left knee
came back inconclusive today because of
e Melbourne Storm star will remain
with the squad in London and continue
treatment in the coming days, however, he
has already been ruled out of Saturday s
semi-final against Fiji at Wembley.
Barring an unlikely speedy recovery,
Slater will also miss the final --- should
Australia make it as expected ---
meaning Greg Inglis is set to shift from
the centres to finish the tournament in
his pet position.
at switch will mean a reprieve for
at least one of a trio of specialist centres
left out of the squad that beat the
United States 62-0 in the quarter-finals
Michael Jennings, Josh Morris
and Brent Tate may have felt they
would spend the last fortnight of the
competition on the sidelines after coach
Tim Sheens opted to pair Jarryd Hayne
and Inglis in the centres against the
But Slater s injury has suddenly thrown
up another chance to stake a claim to be
part of the side that will attempt to lift
the trophy at Old Trafford on November
30.Jennings and Morris are specialist left
centres and seemingly have the inside
running, but there is speculation Sheens
could consider Tate for a bench role or
give Jennings a chance on the wing at the
expense of Darius Boyd.
Winger Brett Morris, who scored four
tries against the US, along with Hayne
was confident Australia could cover for
the loss of Slater, whichever way Sheens
opted to go.
" is side has a lot of depth," Morris
said. "I m sure Tim will have another
selection dilemma on his hands.
Everyone wants to play in these games."
Australia will face Fiji for the second
time at the tournament after the Bati
defeated Samoa 20-4 in Warrington
e Kangaroos triumphed 34-2 when
the side met in the group stage in
dreadful conditions in St Helens.
New Zealand meet England in
Saturday s opening semi-final, also being
played at Wembley. --- AAP
LEAGUE WORLD CUP
Slater injury opens doors for axed Kangaroos
Kiwis have options if
Vatuvei ruled out
PICTURE: Getty Images
Kiwi Manu Vatuvei makes a break during
Saturday s Rugby League World Cup quarter-final
against Scotland at Headingley Stadium, Leeds.
Civoniceva leads Fiji to semis
LEAGUE WORLD CUP
PICTURE: Getty Images
Fiji s Akuila Uate cuts between Samoa s Iosia Soliola and Pita Godinet in
this morning s quarter-final at e Halliwell Jones Stadium, in Warrington.
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