Carter sets seal on gutsy comeback Posted over 8 years ago

Photo: Irish Times

Carter sets seal on gutsy comeback

Dan Carter’s joy was there for all to see following New Zealand’s dominant 34-17 victory over Australia in a compelling Rugby World Cup Final.

The big screens at Twickenham could hardly contain his smile that stretched as wide as The Ditch following a Man of the Match performance that propelled the All Blacks into the history books as the first side to win back-to-back World Cups and the first to win the sport’s biggest prize three times.

It was a far cry from the broken and emotionally drained figure that bravely fronted up to the media in Auckland four years ago after his World Cup dream had been cruelly dashed by a groin injury.

The seeds of Carter’s comeback were sown that dark day and his disappointment at being stripped of a starring role at a home World Cup – even though he ended up with a winners’ medal – and the doomsayers’ predictions that his body had finally let him down fueled his return to top form.

Carter’s revival reached a crowd-pleasing crescendo during the All Blacks’ run to Saturday night’s title-decider with the 33-year-old producing a particularly eye-catching display during the quarter-final destruction of France.

That free-flowing performance included a simply sublime offload that fooled four French defenders and put team-mate Julian Savea in for a try. Carter was clearly fit, firing and having fun – but there was better to come on an even bigger stage.

No doubt aware this would be his last appearance in the world famous jersey before a high-profile move to France and out of the All Blacks’ selection picture, Carter attacked the final with the understandable hunger of someone with something to prove.

But crucially there was also control and clinical composure – most notably when he slotted a superb drop goal that gave the All Blacks some priceless breathing room with just ten minutes to play.

Carter had no time and no space but it was no problem for the in-form fly-half whose sweetly-struck kick took New Zealand’s lead out to a converted score and dented the Wallabies’ hopes of completing a stunning comeback having reduced an 18-point deficit to just four.

Within five minutes he had also hammered over a long-range penalty from just inside the Wallabies’ half to all but seal his side’s triumph. He would not be denied.

However, his industry and influence was not confined to the creative side of the All Blacks’ game with his enthusiasm also powering him to 12 momentum-sapping tackles – a total exceeded by only Australia’s Dean Mumm (15).

It was fitting that Carter provided the finishing touches to the All Blacks’ victory with a cheeky right-footed conversion that underlined his enviable skill set and rounded out his 19-point haul.

As stressed by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen ahead of the final, this game was never going to define Carter’s international career as he was already in possession of one of the most impressive CVs in the history of the sport.

His achievements up to this point included two World Rugby Player of the Year awards, a key role in destruction of the British & Irish Lions in 2005 and Tri-Nations and Rugby Championship success while over 112 Test caps and a world record 1,598 points underline his enviable ability to repeatedly deliver excellence.

But the game could – and would – provide a perfect punctuation mark after 12 years of distinguished service that Carter himself ranked above any that had preceded it.

“This win is right up there with everything I’ve done in my career – it is the ultimate achievement,” he said following his fairytale ending.

Carter was no doubt reflecting on the particularly difficult journey that led to this final magical moment.

“It was a pretty tough and dark place four years ago,” added the most talented playmaker of his generation. “I would have loved to have been part of that World Cup final in New Zealand and I’ve had to work extremely hard to be here today.”

But as is the All Blacks’ way, Carter refused to hog the limelight and instead highlighted the combined effort that had secured the World Cup crown.

“I’m just so proud of the guys and what they’ve achieved,” he added. “Back-to-back World Cups, it is something no other team has done before and it just goes to show how special this group is.”

Of course this is not the end for Carter who will soon embark on a new challenge with French club side Racing Metro and he may well revisit another injury-induced scar.

His previous stint in France with Perpignan in 2009 was brought to an abrupt end by an Achilles injury and in this kind of form he could yet add to that glittering rugby CV with a Top 14 or European Champions Cup title.

You would not put it past him.

The Rugby site is the only online coaching resource to offer a truly global perspective, subscribe for 12 months – now at a lower price point.

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 News & Opinions videos


comments powered by Disqus

Graham Jenkins is a freelance sports journalist who has been reporting around the rugby globe for over 20 years. A former editor of the leading rugby union website, he is a veteran of five World Cups and cites England’s 2003 triumph as the most memorable moment of his professional career - closely followed by a night out with Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal.

Topic News & Opinions
Applicable to Coaches   Players   Others   Supporters and fans  

Related articles

Can Japan shock the world again?

Countries have finalised their RWC squads and now finalise their preparations for the tournament. Writer Graham Jenkins in his latest article looks at Japan’s prospects as host nation and make another indelible mark on sporting history.

Coaching to inspire in your own orbit

As the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, writer Graham Jenkins reflects on how coaches should be looking to inspire, and positively influence, their players within their own orbit.

Innovate or die? Rugby's continued quest to stay relevant.

The pressure on English rugby, and the game in general, to adapt and ensure the long-term success of the sport is evident in two innovations that are set to debut next season. Writer Graham Jenkins looks at these innovations and their possible positive effect on the game and its continued evolution.

Coaches should embrace ‘half game rule’ challenge

From the start of next season, all match day squad players at every level of youth, junior and minis rugby, from ages 6 to 18, must play at least half a game. A policy that has been in place in NZ and Wales for some years. Graham backgrounds the rationale behind the move and the impact on coaches.

Is it time the Six Nations packed down behind the Nations Championship concept?

World Rugby’s plan for a ground-breaking annual Nations Championship uniting both hemispheres appeared to have little support when revealed last month but is it actually a concept we should all be embracing? Writer Graham Jenkins looks at the merits of the plan.