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Carter starts campaign for World Cup

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/07/2015
Dan Carter in an All Blacks training session. © Getty Images Dan Carter in an All Blacks training session.

Dan Carter is in his best shape for two years and ready to make an early impression in the race to be the All Blacks' World Cup playmaker.

Carter gets first crack at wearing No.10 for the year when New Zealand meet Samoa in Apia on Wednesday.

The 103rd Test of his illustrious career allows Carter to put the last two years of injury frustration behind him.

His well-documented leg niggles have disappeared, he reckons, leading to a bittersweet moment at All Blacks training last week.

"It was the first time I've been able to fitness test properly for a couple of years," he said.

"Physically I'm feeling great. I'm usually sitting there watching the other guys flog it out in fitness sessions."

Carter can expect Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade to be selection rivals all year, including at the World Cup.

The veteran's goalkicking is historically better than the other two, potentially giving him the inside running although he won't entertain such thoughts.

"We're not there for a holiday, we're there for a Test match.

"Just mentally, having those couple of weeks off after Super Rugby and spending time with family has been really refreshing. I'm ready to play some rugby now."

The match is a reunion of sorts for the Crusaders, who were eliminated from Super Rugby three weeks ago.

Carter is one of 13 players left licking their wounds but appreciating a rare break at his time of year.

He appreciated linking again with long-time red and black team-mate Andy Ellis in Apia.

Ellis, called up after missing out on a place in the 41-man All Blacks squad, deserved a chance to prove himself, Carter said.

"He's a good mate and such a competitor and he's worked so hard," he said.

"I know deep down he'll be pretty disapointed he hasn't been in this environment the last few years."

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