Injured All Blacks first five-eighth Dan Carter will return to action in March for the Crusaders, with coach Todd Blackadder saying the tournament’s record points scorer will return for the team’s “first or second” home game.
The Crusaders kick off their season against the Blues at Eden Park, and head down to Dunedin the following week to play the Highlanders.
Their first home game is against the Chiefs in round three, they take their first bye the next round, before hosting the Cheetahs in their first outer Conference clash of the season.
Those early home matches could be shifted away from Christchurch as work continues on redeveloping their new home at Rugby League Park.
Carter, who returned to the Crusaders alongside other World Cup winning All Blacks on Monday, sat out training alongside Richie McCaw, with both still recovering from their groin and foot injuries respectively.
The All Blacks first five was due to lead his country for the first time against Canada at the Rugby World Cup, but a minor mishap during the captain’s run saw Carter fall to the ground while undertaking kicking practice.
In obvious pain, it was later revealed that Carter had suffered a torn adductor longus tendon in his left groin, and was ruled out of the 2011 tournament.
He had surgery two weeks before the final.
Blackadder said that March 9 (Chiefs) or March 24 (Cheetahs) were the most likely dates for the man who has scored a record 1,272 points for the Crusaders.
"He is going to be back in March, hopefully for our first or second home game,” the coach said.
“He is still in rehab mode but he's looking in good shape."