Carter expects to lift

NZRU     31 May 2007     NZRU

The Crusaders and All Blacks king pin said he has been feeling more comfortable with every game since returning from reconditioning, despite having suffered a shoulder injury.

The added prospect of pulling on the All Blacks jersey was always enough to lift any player and Test matches were a step up which demanded the best, he said.

Concerns that France might not offer the sort of tough opposition the All Blacks would appreciate before embarking on a Philips Tri Nations competition don't wash with him.

"There's going to be 15 French players out on the field doing what they can to beat us.

"We can't take them lightly or for granted," Carter said.

By the same token, not knowing what to expect of many of the unknown French players did make things tough.

"A real focus for this week has been concentrating on our own game," he said.

"It's about getting our combinations back," he said as the side looks to get back to, and beyond, the levels they achieved last year.

"The confidence is there to play our own game and enjoy what we do."

Carter said that coach Graham Henry's call for the All Blacks to lift their performance by 20-25 percent was reasonable because opposing sides will have been analysing last year's play by the side and will be looking to counter that.

However, he said that while the All Blacks were working through their old moves, they had one or two new ones to put into the mix as well.

It had been frustrating coming back into Rebel Sport Super 14 rugby from the reconditioning but there was genuine enjoyment about getting back into the All Blacks camp, "a team we enjoy playing for," he said.

Everyone had settled back in well and there was a quiet assurance heading into Saturday's first Test at Eden Park.