Late call-up Carter in line for RWC debut

From the sunny training fields of Bordeaux to the cauldron of a decisive Rugby World Cup clash with England at Twickenham.

For Sam Carter, who was called up for the injured Will Skelton, that could be the culmination of an incredible week with the talented lock in line for a call-up for Saturday’s (Sunday AEDT) crucial Pool A showdown.

For the past two weeks, Carter has been knuckling down at pre-season training with French Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles – a short-term contract organised to be close to the World Cup should injuries occur.

That’s where the 26-year-old was on Monday when he received a call from Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Skelton had suffered a pectoral injury, and Cheika wanted the 201cm Brumbies star to jump on a flight and join the Wallabies’ World Cup cause.

By Tuesday morning, Carter was strapped up and packing into scrums under the watchful gaze of Cheika at the Wallabies’ training base in south London.

“It was pretty exciting actually,” Carter said of his call from Cheika.

“I was obviously excited but felt sorry for the guys who were ruled out injured. I’m just keen to get back in and be a part of the squad.”

While the disappointment was obvious for Skelton and Wycliff Palu, who was also ruled out of the tournament on Tuesday, it was a pain Carter had felt himself.

He’d been favoured to make Cheika’s initial 31-man squad before a serious knee injury suffered in May ended his Super Rugby season and put his World Cup hopes on the backburner.

But he never gave up hope.

“I was thinking the quicker I can get back, the quicker I can get back for selection,” he said.

“I missed out on the (initial) selection, but I was part of the squad in the USA tour.

“Either way, I was going to be training (in France) or back in Australia.

“It just worked out that I’m here and I get the opportunity.”

Carter is considered a strong chance to be named on the bench when the team is picked on Thursday, with Skelton’s absence opening up a spot.

If called on, Carter says he’ll be ready to rip and tear.

Australia are expected to roll out a similar starting line-up to the first-choice group selected for the win over Fiji in their tournament opener, although some positions are not entirely settled.

Veteran winger Drew Mitchell is considered a chance to usurp Rob Horne’s spot on the left wing as the Wallabies look for a way to counter the express pace of England right winger Anthony Watson.

The halves remain in some debate, although the steady hand, and superior goalkicking, of Bernard Foley looks set to win out over the brilliant but unpredictable Quade Cooper.

Cooper produced a mixed effort against Uruguay – setting up three tries and looking a constant threat in a game where he was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle and missed six of his 11 shots at goal.

Will Genia has the upper hand in his battle with Nick Phipps for the halfback spot, despite the latter’s strong outing in the rout of Uruguay.

The back-row picks itself, with Scott Fardy to partner the Michael Hooper-David Pocock combination, despite Sean McMahon’s man-of-the-match performance against Uruguay.

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