The Perfect Tens Posted over 12 years ago

I have played against some pretty good 10’s over the years. Half of them even seem to go to my old school, Boys High in Christchurch. But there are a couple who really stand out. The big two in my time as a player have been Jonny Wilkinson and Stephen Larkham.

Wilkinson is one of those who is far more appreciated by his fellow players – opponents and teammates alike – than by some commentators. When I started playing Wilkinson was such a dangerous threat. He read the game outstandingly well. If a wide defender had pushed up, you knew that Jonny would kick into the hole. If the midfield was out of line, then Jonny would hit the pass to expose it. If you started to drift off him, then Jonny would run at the space.

Wilkinson could also kick equally well off either foot. Never under-estimate that skill in a 10. I am told Barry John, the man the Welsh called King, was sublime off either side. It sets the great 10’s apart. And of course, you just knew you couldn’t give Jonny a penalty within 60 metres or he would kick it every time. That fearful knowledge can restrict a team in how it plays.

‘Tough’ describes Wilkinson. Mentally tough and physically tough. He could put in some good shots on defence even if he is paying for it now. A lot of teams target the opposition 10, but you knew that Wilkinson wasn’t going to miss any tackles. He loved to hit – crazy good.

Larkham was different. If Wilkinson was a professor of rugby science then the Aussie was a magician. He had such great hands. Larkham would drift so wide and flat that he brought defences on to him and then made them disappear with a flick of the wrists. The players around Larkham always looked good, because he bought them that time and space.

Larkham was not a classical 10 like Wilkinson. He was just something else. It’s not a bad way to be.

Enter your email address to continue reading

We frequently post interesting articles and comment from our world class content providers so please provide us with your email address and we will notify you when new articles are available.

We'll also get in touch with various news and updates that we think will interest you. We promise to not spam, sell, or otherwise abuse your address (you can unsubscribe at any time).

See all Attack videos


comments powered by Disqus

_Graham Henry on Carter:_ He’s up among the greatest first five eighths of all time. He is a very intelligent rugby player with high personal standards. He’s the All Blacks navigator. _Richie McCaw on Carter:_ He has the time to make it look easy even when he is making decisions on the hop. He runs the game for us and does it with so much poise that his confidence lifts the players around him.

Topic Attack
Applicable to Coaches  

Related articles

Merry Christmas from Dan Carter, Richie McCaw & all the Team at The Rugby Site

A special Christmas message from the team at The Rugby Site

Dan Carter & Richie McCaw on the new Rugby Site App

Dan & Richie take a look at the all new Rugby Site mobile app

Lead up to game day

All Black fly-half Dan Carter talks about his game day lead up and recovery process following a test match.

100 is special and 10 is better than 12

Dan Carter talks about his 100th game as a Crusader, reflects on the pros and cons of playing number 12 and picks his best New Zealand Super Rugby team.

From Ecuador to London and the 2015 World Cup

Dan Carter talks about his fears and dreams and the long road back to top level rugby.