Dan Carter: ‘I never wanted to be part of first team to lose to Ireland’

Carter believes if All Blacks can negate Sexton, the hard work will be done

There will be no history mentioned prior to the meeting in the aptly named Soldier Field. The New Zealand team have a unique kind of detachment. A soft centre has yet to be discovered under an All Black shirt.

The chilled efficiency Dan Carter brings to a match echoes the All Black mentality and to lose to Ireland after their record streak of 18 wins would make them stand out from their peers for the wrong reasons.

The level of superiority the All Blacks must feel after 100 years of beating little Ireland could spawn arrogance. But there is none of it in the room today.

“The players know the history,” says Carter. “When I was playing I didn’t want to be part of the first team to be beaten by Ireland, so it’s at the back of your mind. That brings a little bit of extra pressure. No, it’s not something we talk about, to be honest


“It’s the kind of pressure the players and the All Blacks really feed on and use as motivation to make sure you do everything you can to get the win.”

Carter – who was in Wicklow yesterday in his role as a brand ambassador for SoftCo10, a leading provider of financial software – won't be going to Chicago because of commitments in France. But he says if Johnny Sexton's influence is nullified, then Ireland will cease to function. We know that. But now we also know everyone knows it and to that end Carter has nominated Beauden Barrett to start at 10 for New Zealand.

Sexton's injury problems are widely known and he has not been the great Leinster ringmaster he can be. They don't know Sexton's understudy, Joey Carbery, and if Joe Schmidt decides to spring him from the bench, it could work out for Ireland.

“I think Beauden deserves his position,” says Carter. “I know they all work closely together but I also know that they all work extremely hard to try and get that starting spot.

Fantastic year

“Cruds [Aaron Cruden] will be disappointed that he had that injury through the middle of the season. But the way he came on and made that impact in the last game against Australia was great for his confidence. But Beauden has had a fantastic year. He’s probably just ahead of Cruds at the moment.

“He [Sexton] is a player that, if Ireland are to be successful, he needs a big game. He needs to be leading them around the field and he’s capable of doing that.

“They’re going to be hoping he’s right up for this game and that he has one of his better games if Ireland are to have any chance. He’s definitely more than capable. He’s a world-class player and a valuable part of the Irish team.”

The All Black assembly line never stops producing world class players and their standards hardly drop when players like Carter retire. They have also become experts in using their bench, with players designated to carry out specific functions different to the starting XV.

Early in the second half those players will start to fold in, with the idea that the change in the game’s tempo and tactics becomes a definitive twist of the knife. And indeed, the opposition tends to fall away in the last third of the match.

For New Zealand the bench is used to make the final kill.


“You need huge confidence in your bench. It’s almost become a speciality role,” says Carter. “Something that we have put a lot of emphasis on in the last couple of years is that you’re not on the bench because you’re the second-best player. You’ve got to be there to add an impact.

“Obviously, you might be coming on for an injury, but the reason is for a specific role. Whether that’s for the last 10 minutes, 20 minutes, the coaches have their plans around that.

“A lot of it is the psychology and the mental side of preparing for coming off the bench, compared to preparing to start. They are completely different and I have put a lot of work into that over the years as it is a specialist role.”

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times