Dan Carter, the New Zealand fly-half, is to undergo ankle surgery which will rule him out of rugby for up to eight weeks. Carter broke the record for rugby union Test points when he kicked his third penalty in a gripping Test against South Africa on Saturday which New Zealand eventually won 29-22 to claim the Tri Nations title for a 10th time. His international haul of 1,113 points edged him ahead of England's Jonny Wilkinson, who scored 1,111.
But the surgery means Carter will be unavailable for the All Blacks' final Tri Nations match of the series against Australia in Sydney on September 11. Deb Robinson, the All Blacks' doctor, said Carter had been troubled by a niggling pain in his right ankle throughout the year. "It's reached the point now where it is restricting his ankle flexibility and, in turn, affecting his calf muscle strength, so now is the right time to have surgery," Robinson said.
She added that the surgery, which will take place in Christ- church tomorrow, would involve removing loose material from the joint at the back of his ankle. A bone spur would also be removed from the front of his ankle. Carter said the time was right for the operation. "Given that movement in my foot is being affected, it's obviously in my best interests to have the surgery now," he said. "I've been in this situation before and understand what is involved so will get through the surgery and rehab and then look forward to getting back into rugby."
Robinson said Carter would initially be in a cast to allow the ankle joint to settle before he could resume training. A recovery period of up to eight weeks was expected. Graham Henry, the All Blacks coach, said: "Dan is the ultimate rugby professional when it comes to injury rehabilitation and, with the help of the All Blacks medical staff, he will be getting the best treatment possible and we look forward to his return to rugby.
"Looking ahead to the Sydney Test, the selectors will look at a replacement player for Dan so we will be watching a bit of ITM Cup rugby over the next two weekends and confirm the player in due course," Henry added. * Agence France-Presse