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New Zealand get Carter
6 October 2007 12:05pm
New Zealand's prospects of sending France tumbling to a disastrous World Cup exit have improved further following Dan Carter's successful fitness test.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry said: "Dan is fit. He trained pretty well on Thursday and trained again on Friday and is fine. He is kicking beautifully."
New Zealand would have remained favourites to set up a semi-final appointment against either Australia or England even without superstar Carter.
But the availability of the Crusaders fly-half provides Henry's side with an extra dimension that may prove crucial in a mouth-watering showdown against the French.
While the presence of gifted individuals like Carter could turn the tide, Hurricanes flanker Jerry Collins believes the outcome will be decided by a battle of wills.
"We planned to come for eight weeks so to go home after five would not be good," he said.
"In the knockout stages, you become more desperate. If you are feeling a little bit tired, you push through it as you realise the other guy is pushing just as hard as you are.
"For these games, it's who can push the hardest. If a kick doesn't look good in a knockout match, it's only as good as the chase.
"The desperation factor makes it different. Being careful goes out the window, there's no holding back this week."
New Zealand strolled into the quarter-finals following a powder-puff Pool C campaign but Collins would not be drawn on whether his side are undercooked.
"Whether the lack of tough games in the pool will have affected us or not can only be answered tonight," he said.
"If we win, the build-up was right; if we lose, the build-up was wrong. Against France, we've got to produce our best 80 minutes so far."
France have lost their last seven matches against the All Blacks but Collins refuses to read to much into the statistic.
"A sports psychologist would use something like that, but if you are realistic you wouldn't," he said.
"France can beat anyone on the day just like we can. We tend to deal with what's in front of us.
"It's a totally different team than the one we played last time."
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