DAN Carter is expected to return to the Crusaders for their clash with the Melbourne Rebels in Christchurch on Sunday, but captain Kieran Read could be at least another week away.
Carter, who missed the last four rounds because of paternity leave then a hamstring strain, ran and kicked freely at the Crusaders training on Tuesday.
However, Read, who has missed as many matches because of a toe injury, was restricted to light jogging.
“DC [Carter] trained today which is great and fundamentally for him it is about getting through this week’s training,” assistant coach Tabai Matson said.
“So to get through today was exciting. We have another training tomorrow and his volume will be managed this week and we will be keeping our fingers well crossed.
“If he is available we will probably use him off the bench.”
With Tom Taylor also back after a long break because of a medial ligament injury, the Crusaders are back to a full complement of five-eighths with Tyler Bleyendaal unchallenged for the No.10 jersey for the last month.
Matson confirmed Read would not be considered this Sunday.
“He’s still at least a week away – it’s a bit of a slow process with that ligament under the foot so we will just take it day by day with him.”
Matson was not part of the Crusaders coaching staff when the Crusaders were upset 28-19 by the Rebels in Melbourne last year after leading by nine points at half-time, but he said there were similarities about the loss to the Force a fortnight ago.
“That was a wake-up call for us. Our attitude simply was not good enough and if you’re 3 per cent down across the board you are going to get beaten,” Matson said.
“We can’t be arrogant going into battle thinking we’re going to intimidate people.
“We’ve got to prepare to be the best we can be every week if we’re going to be serious about winning the championship.”
Matson, who is responsible for the backline attacking strategy along with Aaron Mauger, admitted that poor execution had prevented the backs from performing consistently.
“It’s fine having a good plan but if we are not nailing the details around it – like passing accuracy and all those wee things that go with it – then it’s no different from being an under 12 player or a Super rugby player.”