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16th Sep 2023

Dan Carter and Brian O’Driscoll pick their World Cup players to watch

Patrick McCarry

Dan Carter

“He’s young, he’s fearless, he’s got a great rugby brain on him.”

Although their last, respective, World Cup appearances were in 2011 and 2015, Brian O’Driscoll and Dan Carter were so excellent over a sustained period that their rugby opinions will hold weight for a long, long time.

Ahead of the 2023 World Cup, the rugby legends helped look ahead to the latest battle for the Webb Ellis trophy, and picked out a handful of players to watch.

Dan CarterDan Carter (left) and Brian O’Driscoll. (Credit: Getty)

Dan Carter’s three stars to watch

We recently caught up with Dan Carter when he was promoting his new book ‘Dan Carter: The Art of Winning’ He picked out his favourite No.10s in the game, right now, lamented injuries to Romain Ntamack and Handré Pollard, and weighed in on a Marcus Smith vs. Owen Farrell debate that George Ford may have already made redundant.

Asked for a player he was most excited to watch in this World Cup, the All Blacks legend stayed close to home:

“There’s a New Zealand player called Will Jordan, who is a try scoring machine. Oh my God, he’s so rapid, he’s fast. He just turns up at the right time at the right place. He’s obviously never played in a World Cup.

“He hasn’t played a lot of rugby, this year and last, at the end of last year, but if he can string a few games – get some regular time – and they can go all the way, then he will be an influential part of the success of the All Blacks. He’s young, he’s fearless, he’s got a great rugby brain on him and the skill-set to turn the game on its head. He’s a great player.”

Although he was very handy at inside centre (or ‘second five-eighth’), Dan Carter will long be remembered as one of the best players to pull on a 10 jersey. To that end, he picked out two fly-halves he was eager to watch during the tournament.

“The ability of Johnny Sexton to control the game and influence the game has been huge for Ireland over the last few years,” he said, “and the big reason why they’ve been so successful because of his game management and the way he directs the team around the field. He’s such a pivotal, influential player.

“Oh, Richie Mo’unga,” Carter continued. “Jeez, he can light it up. We just need the All Black forward pack to really be dominant. If you can give him good go-forward ball, he can rip any team up, at any time.”

Around the same time, in an interview with Radio Times, Brian O’Driscoll was asked to give ‘rising star’ to watch in France. He replied:

“Ireland’s Caelan Doris is the perfect fit as a No.8 for what they’re trying to do.”

Asked for Ireland’s most important player, he replied, “That’s a photo finish between Johnny Sexton and Jamison Gibson-Park. The speed and tempo of that half-back partnership are vital.”

As for the very best player lining up at this World Cup, O’Driscoll declared, “France’s Antoine Dupont is in a different sphere to everyone else.”

Dan Carter: The Art of Winning

During out chat with Dan Carter, who won two World Cup trophies [and had a tournament match win-rate of 93.75%], we asked if he ever envisioned himself evolving into a leader on the pitch. He certainly never saw himself writing a book on leadership, and fostering winning mentalities.

“It was definitely never on the horizons as a young guy, or even a young rugby player,” he told us. “I was young, quiet, naive – there was not a lot of leadership in that young, rugby-playing Dan Carter.

“The fact that people say leaders are born, I kind of buy into that. Some leaders are born but others are developed, as well. I was definitely one of those leaders that developed and learned along the way. And I think that kind of goes to show that, you know, if you’re not born a leader, it doesn’t sort of rule you out of leadership roles in the future.

“There was a bit of self doubt around, sort of not being that well educated, not going to university, not having a degree. When I finished playing rugby, thinking, ‘Why should I be sitting in board meetings or business meetings, you know? I don’t have that education’.

“But going through the process of writing the book, I sort of realised I had a different type of education – one that can sort of transcend, not just the rugby, but also to the business, and everyday life as well. And that’s the, I guess, the foundation of the book – The Art of Winning.”

*The Art of Winning: Ten Lessons in Leadership, Purpose and Potential is available in book stores, and online, now.


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