Dan Carter quashes rumours of Super Rugby return with Highlanders

All Blacks legend Daniel Carter has played down reports of a possible return to Super Rugby with the Highlanders, saying he'd rather take more family time than done the blue and gold in 2019.

The southern Super Rugby franchise is weighing up its first-five options for next year with playmaker Lima Sopoaga headed to the UK to play for Wasps.

While Bryn Gatland and Josh Ioane will be at the Highlanders in 2019, it has also been rumoured players such as Carter and former Wallaby Quade Cooper were being pursued as a third option.

However the 36-year-old, who is playing for the Kobe Steelers currently, told Stuff he isn't looking to return to Super Rugby.

"I hadn't actually thought about it. Hayden Parker, he's in the same team as me, we were away on camp, and he read something about me going down there and that was the first I'd heard about it.

"I think I'd prefer after the Japanese season to spend a bit of time with my family, rather than play another Super Rugby season."

Carter left New Zealand after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, having made 141 appearances for the Crusaders and holds the all-time points (1,708) and conversions (185) in the competition in 12 season of playing.

Dan Carter of the Crusaders. Source: Photosport

Michael Cheika laughs off Steve Hansen's All Blacks as underdogs claim

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will struggle to convince anybody that his side deserve to start as underdogs in the Bledisloe Cup opener, including his own players, Michael Cheika says.

The Wallabies mentor has questioned the merits of his counterpart's bold claim before the first Test, which starts at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on August 18.

Hansen suggested this week that Australia "have a lot of self-confidence and are worthy of starting as favourites".

The statement ignored 16 years of trans-Tasman dominance, the fact Hansen's charges are World Cup holders and have occupied top spot on world rugby's rankings since 2009, and the wisdom of every bookmaker on the planet.

Cheika beamed when asked about Hansen's take.

"I was a little bit surprised," he said.

"Hansen's a fine coach, he's obviously a great rugby mind. He's leading a team that is the best in the world.

"But he may have had that one wrong because I don't think many of his players would believe that.

"I don't think it's very realistic.

The reduced number of Super Rugby teams in Australia has the Wallabies in better shape for the Bledisloe Cup, the All Blacks coach has said. Source: 1 NEWS

"Sometimes you say stuff and go, 'Maybe I shouldn't have said that'."

Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock this week rubbished Hansen's claim as "a load of tripe".

Cheika is set to announce his 28-man squad on Sunday, the same day the All Blacks arrive in Sydney.

The Wallabies recently completed a training camp in Cessnock, with Cheika confident they'll be much better prepared for the first Test compared with last year.

The All Blacks scored a record six tries in the first half of the 2017 Bledisloe opener.

"We're physically in a better place," Cheika said.

"We've got guys who have come out (of Super Rugby) in much better nick.

"We've been able to maybe focus a little bit more on our rugby.

"We've got slightly different strategy."

'As enjoyable as the win was, the disappointment of not winning the cup still resonates for me,' he said. Source: 1 NEWS



Steve Hansen says Nehe Milner-Skudder is fine despite leaving All Blacks' game of three halves

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says winger Nehe Milner-Skudder is fine, despite leaving the field with a jaw problem in last night's game of three halves in Christchurch.

Speaking to media after the match, Hansen said there were no injury concerns to his squad.

"It was good, it was everything we wanted," he said.

"We obviously didn't come out to play too many of our structures and patterns. We just wanted to give people a run and we got plenty of people on the park, and got the rugby into them."

Milner-Skudder, 27, was helped from the field last night, after an apparent knock to his in a tackle.

He scored a try in the hit out ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test next weekend.

The star winger's injury woes appear to have struck once again. Source: 1 NEWS