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Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Carter will not be fit - Gatland

Autumn Tests - Wales v New Zealand
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 7 November Kick-off: 1715 GMT Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC TWO Wales and online, full commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online

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Warren Gatland gives his thoughts on Carter's injury

Wales coach Warren Gatland says he does not expect New Zealand's Dan Carter to face his side, although the fly-half says he is "confident" of being fit.

Carter has been named in the All Blacks team for Saturday's Test in Cardiff, but he has not trained this week because he is carrying a calf injury.

"We don't think [Carter] will be fit to play," Gatland told BBC Sport Wales.

Carter himself said on Thursday: "I'm confident I'll be able to run out there and pull on the black jersey again."

The 27-year-old fly-half sustained the injury in last Saturday's win over Australia in Tokyo and coach Graham Henry conceded his fitness was "questionable" after selecting him on Wednesday for the Wales showdown.

New Zealander Gatland said on Thursday: "We don't think [Carter] will be fit to play, it's one of the reasons they've named [scrum-half] Brendan Leonard, it gives them a left- and right-foot kicking option.

"It's whether they go with Stephen Donald or Mike Delany at 10.

Carter 'confident' over fitness

"A lot's been said about the fact that when Dan Carter and Richie McCaw don't play for the All Blacks they're maybe a bit vulnerable.

"We'll just take it in our stride and prepare accordingly, it doesn't matter whoever's playing for the All Blacks, they've always got quality players and strength in depth."

Henry has made six changes to his side, with 20-year-old Crusaders wing Zac Guildford handed his Test debut.

Leonard starts at scrum-half while prop Wyatt Crockett, lock Jason Eaton, flanker Jerome Kaino and number eight Kieran Read come into the pack.

Guildford replaces the suspended Sitiveni Sivivatu, who was banned for one week after a dangerous tackle on Wallabies centre Adam Ashley-Cooper on Saturday.

Crockett takes over at loose-head from Tony Woodcock, also banned after striking Australian flanker George Smith in Tokyo.

"Woodcock is a big loss but Wyatt's been with us all season as well and trained really well all year," said All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen.

"He probably deserves a crack anyway, so it's a great opportunity for him to come out and show us what he's made of."

Henry 'not disrespecting' Wales

The other changes see Eaton replace Tom Donnelly in the second row, Kaino - a try-scorer against Wales last year - come in for Adam Thomson at blind-side and Read take over from Rodney So'oialo.

The uncapped Ben Smith is also on the bench as back-three cover.

But the fitness of 63-cap Carter has become the main talking point ahead of the Millennium Stadioum game where Wales hope to end a run of 56 years and 20 matches without a win against the All Blacks.

Carter, who made his Test debut against Wales in 2003, has scored 92 points in his last five appearances against Wales, with 72 in the last four wins accounting for half of their points.

"It's been a managed week in terms of not being able to train fully," Carter told BBC Sport Wales on Thursday.

"Travel and long flights never help injury... [The injury has] improved every day, which is encouraging."

606: DEBATE

Coach Henry said on Wednesday: "Dan Carter is okay, but I guess it is always questionable.

"We've managed him though the week and we're hopeful he'll be all right for Saturday.

"It is not a matter of saying 'Dan you have to train for 80 minutes or you will not play'.

"We'll just see how he is and if he is not right, Steve Donald will play."

Henry insists that despite the half-a-dozen changes he has selected a "strong" All Blacks side.

"Our policy on this tour is to give everybody an opportunity," said Henry.

Wales face down All Blacks' haka

"We need to know if these players are up to international standards and they need opportunities to prove that.

"We know we're in for a big game. There's no disrespect to Wales as this is a very strong side.

"The World Cup is a couple of years but there are probably 10 players not available for this tour at home because of injury and maybe one or two who will come home from overseas.

"So it gives these players a chance to say that I'm an international footballer of quality. You can't judge that unless they play so we must carry out the policy."


New Zealand team to face Wales: Mils Muliaina; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Zac Guildford; Dan Carter, Brendan Leonard; Wyatt Crockett, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata, Brad Thorn, Jason Eaton, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Kieran Read.
Replacements: Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Tom Donnelly, Adam Thomson, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Ben Smith.



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