Carter mesmerises on and off the field
Dan Carter’s mesmerising performance has left UK rugby scribes grasping for the superlatives in the wake of yet another dominant All Black performance against Scotland today.
The 30-year-old, playing his 93rd test, was the standout individual on display as the All Blacks ran in six tries to three to get their annual northern tour off to a successful, if predictable, start with a 51-22 victory.
Writing for The Times, John Westerby praised Carter’s “creative influence” as the master five-eighths had a direct hand in three tries and landed nine of his 10 shots at goal for a haul of 21 points.
“Some fly halves can pass, some can kick, some can tackle and some can run. Carter did all of these things, his running game of a class that no other fly half comes close to matching,” wrote Westerby.
He said Carter “strolled through the game with a magisterial air… however frenetic the action around him, Carter, with his gently rolling gait, appears to be running through his repertoire at three-quarter pace.
“Such wonderful cohesion was all the more remarkable for the 10 changes, demonstrating that, for all the stardust sprinkled by Carter and Richie McCaw, the key to the All Blacks' success is the ability to keep 15 players on the same wavelength.”
Writing in The Guardian, respected rugby scribe Robert Kitson said Carter’s performance “illuminated” a mild Edinburgh afternoon.
“On this evidence, the world champions will end 2012 triumphantly unbeaten and Carter will be the world's best number 10 for as long as he laces up his white boots,” wrote Kitson.
“In the second quarter, in particular, the All Blacks' passing was little short of mesmeric as Carter and friends scored three dagger-sharp tries in seven minutes to kill the game as a contest.”
The Guardian scribe also pointed out the folly of Scotland’s seemingly reluctant defensive line.
“Offering Carter and the All Black midfield extra room is the rugby equivalent of giving Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid a few extra sticks of dynamite.
‘‘It is now seven years since an unstoppable Carter took the Lions apart in Wellington with the definitive fly-half display of the modern era, but age has not wearied him.”
Veteran Telegraph rugby man Mick Clearly was no less flowing in his praise as the All Blacks continued a northern tour win streak that dates back to 2002.
“There were times when the All Blacks flowed across the turf like an irresistible tide coming to shore,” wrote Cleary.
“New Zealand have lost none of their aura, retaining all of their power and majesty.
“At the heart of their all-consuming performance was Carter... it was the effortless grace of his play that took the breath away. Carter not only has touch, vision, and deftness, but he is also tough, forever in the fray [and] nerveless in all that he does. Where others look hurried, Carter is poised, the master of all that he surveys.”
Cleary wrote that these All Blacks have the “instincts of a predator, sniffing weakness from a hundred paces” and that Carter was “without equal in that regard”.
It wasn’t only those writing from the comfort of the media tribunes that were won over by the All Blacks’ tour-opening effort.
Scots flanker Alasdair Strokosch told reporters after the game that the speed with which the All Blacks played in the first half had been difficult to counter.
"We just don't see a lot of that in Europe," he said.
"They execute everything at such high speed, with very few mistakes, it's very difficult to play against."
Scotland coach Andy Robinson also joined the Carter bandwagon, ruing his side’s lack of defensive line speed.
"If you give a guy like that time and space he'll pull the strings," said Robinson.
"He just sucks you in: pass, pass, pass and then he's gone. That's the quality of the man."
Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?