All Blacks Playmaker Carter Ruled Out of Rugby World Cup

All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter, the leading points scorer in Tests, was ruled out of the rest of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand because of a groin injury.

Carter, 29, tore a tendon in his left groin during kicking practice yesterday, the New Zealand Rugby Union said. Aaron Cruden replaces Carter in the squad with Colin Slade taking over as first-choice fly-half, coach Graham Henry said.

“It’s devastating for Daniel,” Henry said at a news conference in Wellington. “He’s been a world-class player for a long time, probably one of the greatest players ever produced by this country. This was going to be his pinnacle, the Rugby World Cup. This has been a major objective of his for a long time.”

The top-ranked All Blacks, who next face Argentina on Oct. 9 in the quarterfinals in Auckland, will now try to end their 24-year World Cup title drought without their first-choice playmaker and goal kicker.

Bookmakers including Sportingbet Australia eased their odds of the host nation winning the 20-nation tournament after Carter’s injury. Sportingbet rates New Zealand the 17-20 favorite ahead of 6-1 chances Australia and South Africa.

“The All Blacks are still the side to beat but they’re suddenly looking vulnerable following the loss of their game breaker,” Sportingbet Australia Chief Executive Officer Michael Sullivan said in a statement. “After looking invincible the Kiwis now look well and truly beatable.”

Slade Starts

Slade started at fly-half in today’s 79-15 win over Canada before being shifted to wing in the second half to make way for Piri Weepu. The 23-year-old Slade, playing his ninth Test, missed four of his eight conversion attempts and limped out of the game with 15 minutes remaining.

“I though Colin played pretty well,” Henry said in a televised post-match interview. “He hadn’t played a lot of football so that shows. He needs more and more.”

Carter, who has amassed a record 1,250 points in his 85 Tests for New Zealand, was withdrawn from the game yesterday after injuring his groin and a medical scan last night revealed the extent of the damage.

“He has had no history whatsoever of groin problems,” All Blacks team doctor Deb Robinson said. “It just happened totally out of the blue. The scan, other than the current injury, is pristine. For a guy who has played that much rugby and done that much kicking, that’s quite remarkable really.”

Carter will see a specialist early this week to determine the next course of treatment for him, with surgery a possibility, Robinson said.

Cruden Call Up

Cruden, a former New Zealand under-20 captain, made his All Blacks debut last year and has played six Tests.

“I’ve had quite a bit of contact with him over the last year and I’m impressed with his mentality and his ability,” Henry said of Cruden, 22. “He’s captained a lot of sides so he’s got the ability to guide a side around the track.”

Australia and South Africa, who are both seeking an unprecedented third world championship, today called up replacements for injured players.

Winger Lachie Turner and openside flanker Matt Hodgson were added to the Wallabies’ 30-man squad in place of Drew Mitchell and Wycliff Palu, who were both forced out of the tournament because of hamstring injuries.

The defending champion Springboks chose full-back Zane Kirchner to replace Frans Steyn, who will return home for surgery after injuring his left shoulder in South Africa’s 13-5 win over Samoa two days ago.

“I don’t know how the injury happened,” Steyn, who scored 21 points in four games at his second World Cup, said in a statement. “It was at a ruck when I was cleaning someone out late in the game. I was enjoying our campaign and the tournament and to have it ended like this is very disappointing.”

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