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04th Sep 2023

Dan Carter praises “huge” Johnny Sexton as he names world’s four best fly-halves

Patrick McCarry

Dan Carter

“He’ll probably send me a message joking about this.”

As a key player that missed a chunk of a big home World Cup, Dan Carter can relate to France outhalf Romain Ntamack missing out on the tournament after injuring his knee.

The All Blacks legend, and two-time World Cup winner, is speaking with SportsJOE during a publicity push for his new book ‘Dan Carter: The Art of Winning’ and mulling the best No.10s in world rugby. “I’m still getting my head around the word out-halves!” he remarks. Back in New Zealand, they call the man in the 10 jersey a ‘first five-eighth’.

Dan CarterFormer All Black Dan Carter has a new book out, entitled ‘The Art of Winning’. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Dan Carter on rugby’s best 10s

Dan Carter won the World Cup with New Zealand in 2011 and in 2015, in what was his final Test match of a spectacular career.

Heading into the latest World Cup, we asked the All Blacks legend to highlight some of the best out-halves to watch out for in the tournament. He actually started off naming one player who might miss out, another that definitely will and a couple of other well-known 10s.

“Oh, Jeez, I went straight to, not because I think he’s the best fly-half, but, obviously, because of what Romain Ntamack is going through at the moment,” said Carter. “Having such a serious injury right leading into a Rugby World Cup game is devastating. His form for Toulouse has been incredible. His combination with Antoine Dupont has been been amazing. So really sad to see him go.

“Also, Handré Pollard – you know that he’s going to perform in big moments in the Rugby World Cup [knock-out] games. So he’s a huge loss, for the Springboks to not have him there, because he would have learned so much from 2015, you know, when he played in his first World Cup and then obviously turned things are around and really drove the Springboks to victory in 2019. So he’s a huge, huge loss. A couple of the top ones are not going to be there.”

“And then you got Johnny Sexton, as well,” Carter added:

“The way that he’s evolved his game, it’s similar to myself. You know he’s not gonna be scoring tries and he’ll probably send me a message joking about this. He’s not gonna be tries from 50 metres out, you know, beating five or six defenders to score the match-winning try. But his ability to control the game and influence the game has been huge for Ireland over the last few years 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.

“So hopefully, you know, he can find some form and get back from his injury and the setbacks that, that he’s had recently because he’s a big part of that squad.”

“Who else have we got?” Dan Carter mused. “Oh, Richie Mo’unga. 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. His combination with Beauden Barrett is a really important one, in terms of the game plan that they’re trying to play. If you give him some front-foot ball, his skill-set can turn any team around.”

Dan CarterBeauden Barrett of New Zealand is tackled by Johnny Sexton and Tadhg Beirne of Ireland. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Dan Carter on England’s main 10s

With Owen Farrell suspended for a couple of World Cup games, George Ford and Marcus Smith will share the out-half duties in the opening two games.

Heading deeper into the tournament, Dan Carter says he will be watching closely to see who gets the 10 jersey. He made that observation at the tail-end of his ‘best 10s’ chat.

“Whether Owen Farrell or Marcus Smith starts (for England),” said Carter, “you’ve two completely different players.

“Unfortunately, Marcus sort of hasn’t had the quality ball, you know, to sort of light things up like he has in the English Premiership. He just hasn’t sort of transformed that [into Test rugby] but he’s an extremely skilful, quality player. And the likes of someone like Owen, who knows if he’s going to play another World Cup or not.

“With that disappointment that he had in 2019, reaching the final after great game against the All Blacks and then that disappointment of not going all the way, that really adds a lot of motivation towards him as well.”

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


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