Carter a 'special star'
Thu, 14 Nov 2013 20:52
I'm just trying to put it all to the side
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said Dan Carter was a "special, special player" as the flyhalf prepared to become only the fifth All Blacks player to win 100 caps.
Carter is in line to join the select group against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Already Test rugby's leading all-time points scorer, the 31-year-old Carter has long been regarded as the best flyhalf of his generation.
"It is massive," Hansen told a London news conference on Thursday when asked about Carter's looming achievement.
"Any All Back who can sustain a career long enough to play 100 games is a special player but he is probably one of the special, special ones."
A groin injury suffered early on in the tournament meant Carter was sidelined from New Zealand's eventual 2011 World Cup final win on home soil.
And the Crusaders star has struggled with injuries since then, not lasting the full 80 minutes in his last couple of Tests.
"He has been pretty frustrated over the last 18 months with injury but he seems to be on top of that at the moment and he is deserving of the honour," said Hansen, who added he thought Carter would be capable of lasting the whole match at Twickenham on Saturday.
Hansen has seen plenty of Carter's Test career, having been the coach of Wales when the flyhalf made his international debut in Hamilton in 2003.
"The very first he played was pretty sharp," said Hansen.
"I happened to be coaching the opposition, he scored 20 points."
However, Carter surpassed that performance with by scoring two tries, five penalties, and four conversions for a 33-points haul when the All Blacks thrashed the British and Irish Lions 48-18 in the second Test at Wellington in 2005.
"He had his first Test and played very, very well but probably his best game was the second Test against the [B&I] Lions in 2005 - that stands out," Hansen said.
"I thought his game against France in the World Cup in 2011 was outstanding, it looked like he was going have a great impact on that tournament until he got injured."
New Zealand have chosen not to make Carter available for interview to UK media in the run-up to the England match.
However, in comments made to New Zealand website stuff.co.nz, Carter said: "At times you do think about the special occasion."
"But I'm just trying to put it all to the side and concentrate on what I have to do for the team and keep the usual structures in place going in to a Test match.
"After the game I hope I can enjoy it and embrace it a bit more. I'm really working hard on not getting caught up in all the hype."
Wales and Lions assistant coach Rob Howley, himself a former world-class scrum-half, was in no doubt of Carter's quality.
"The one thing you look for in outside-halves is an ability to see the game in front of them," Howley said.
"Dan Carter has the ability to give himself time on the ball, he's an effective kicker with both feet, he ghosts through defences and has a sublime all-round skill set.
"If he's not creating something he's creating space for others around him. That's a key ingredient of a 10."
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