Number one at number 10
New Zealand outhalf Dan Carter has been the game’s most valuable player in the professional era
Dan Carter: With 1,409 points, no one has been more prolific in the history of test rugby
The All Blacks fill out venues quicker than anyone else in the world wherever they go and one player who has always been worth the price of admission has been Dan Carter, perhaps more than anyone else in the professional era.
Hence, it was reassuring to again see his name included in the All Blacks squad for their end of year tour, in the particular hope that he pitches up at the Aviva, not least as we have to wonder whether we’ll see him again.
Certainly, we’ll never see his like again, and pound for pound he’s possibly been the game’s most valuable player in the professional era as well. With 1,409 points, no one has been more prolific in the history of test rugby, and he has been one of the game’s consistently outstanding players for 11 years. He’s also the highest points scorer in the history of super-12 rugby.
His career might be said to have reached a peak as far back as 2005, when a stellar year saw him deservedly crowned as the IRB world player of the year. In the second test against the British & Irish Lions in Wellington he scored 33 points in the All Blacks’ 48-18 win with two tries, five penalties, and four conversions. He came within a whisker of a third try and a 40-point haul (given he was having one of those nights were he could have landed a kick from row Z) thereby passing the previous All Blacks record of 18 points in a Lions test.
Yet the wonder is that 2005 was the only year he received the IRB award, for there has been so many performances within that period, along with his masterful accumulation of points with that prodigious left boot of his. After one of those innumerable place kicks, he’d shuffle back toward his team-mates with that curiously un-athletic, foot-dragging jog of his. Yet, with the ball in his hand he is a beautifully balanced runner who can glide through gaps with that deceptive burst of acceleration.
A brave and effective tackler too, Carter has also always been a wonderful game manager, with a complete array of deft grubbers, crosskicks, aerial bombs and long, raking touch-finders. Perhaps he hasn’t had the assured drop goal expertise of a Jonny Wilkinson or Ronan O’Gara, and certainly not off both feet like the former. But then the All Blacks have rarely been backed into such a corner that they’ve needed a last-ditch drop goal from Carter except, ironically, to beat Ireland in the second test in Christchurch last summer.