CHRISTCHURCH - All Blacks maestro Dan Carter admits he was below his best in the Crusaders' season-opening Super Rugby loss to the Blues and he aims to step up against the Hurricanes in Wellington tonight.
While the Crusaders have made a disappointing start so, too, have the Hurricanes who have suffered defeats at home to the Blues and away to the Reds.
Carter, with five penalties, kicked all the Crusaders' points as they were beaten 34-15 at Eden Park last Friday night.
However, the 94-Test All Black's positional kicking lacked its usual length and placement and he seldom carried the ball to the line.
"Looking at the last few years and my first couple of games, I've been quite slow, but I'll be better for having the hit-out," Carter said on Wednesday.
"I realise now the intensity I need to get up to and hopefully I'll keep building and get better each week."
Carter, who turned 31 on Tuesday, said he remained highly motivated to play for the Crusaders and the All Blacks despite reports that he was close to signing a contract with Japanese club Toyota.
He dismissed the reports as speculation and said he was unaware of them until told earlier in the day.
"I've committed to a full season playing rugby in New Zealand and I want to play as much footy this year as I can for the Crusaders and in the black jersey."