Dan Carter fails to make Tremain shortlist

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012
Carter, McCaw
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TOP DOGS: Dan Carter won IRB player of the year while Richie McCaw collected the team of the year award for the All Blacks.

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Dan Carter is the IRB player of the year but not judged to be among the top three All Blacks of 2012 by a panel of his countrymen.

The star first five-eighth was missing from the shortlist for New Zealand rugby's top prize yesterday with Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Conrad Smith the three nominees.

Carter's absence shows up a potentially different perspective on what constitutes an international team's best player.

Many felt McCaw was hard done by when he was passed over for the IRB's biggest gong last week.

Carter played only nine tests this year to his captain's 13 but statistically the IRB panel had a decent case.

The first five-eighth had a massive influence this season with his prolific boot and his control of play, which reached its height against Scotland at Murrayfield.

He kicked 17 points against Ireland in Auckland and Christchurch, kicking the winning drop goal with his wrong foot in the latter match.

He contributed all 18 points in the draw with Australia in Brisbane, and had 17 against the Wallabies in Sydney and Auckland.

Some say the All Blacks suffer most when Carter is off his game and that was certainly the case during the 38-21 loss to England.

On that evidence it is odd that the New Zealand Rugby Union's judging panel of Brent Anderson, Graham Mourie, Andy Leslie and Grant Nisbett did not include Carter in their top three.

Interestingly the past two winners of New Zealand's top award, the Kel Tremain Memorial player of the year, have been loose forwards Jerome Kaino, 2011, and Kieran Read, 2010. Whatever the case, this year's judges were spoilt for choice.

McCaw's consistency, guts and leadership stood out all season and that weight of performance and bodily sacrifice - think Dunedin against South Africa - were immense.

Captain against Italy, Read was the best ball carrier in the All Blacks for most of the season and a huge presence defensively.

And without Smith's handling, defence and commitment with ball in hand the All Blacks would undoubtedly not have scored as many, nor stopped as many, tries.

Of the other big awards, Steve Hansen and his All Blacks will be favourites to win the coach of the year and team of the year awards respectively.

Hansen's side won 12 of 14 tests in his first season in charge.

Chiefs first five-eighth Aaron Cruden might have his nose ahead of captain Craig Clarke for Super Rugby's player of the year after running the cutter during the run to the title.

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Smith was an inspirational captain of the Hurricanes but has no silverware to back his claims.

Likewise, Auckland fullback Charles Piutau would be a fitting pick in the NPC category.

MAJOR AWARD NOMINEES

Kel Tremain Memorial player of the year: Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Conrad Smith. Our pick: McCaw. Super Rugby player of the year: Craig Clarke (Chiefs), Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes). Our pick: Cruden. NPC player of the year: Robbie Fruean (Canterbury), Tim Nanai-Williams (Counties Manukau), Charles Piutau (Auckland). Our pick: Piutau. Coach of the year: Steve Hansen (All Blacks), Dave Rennie (Chiefs), Gordon Tietjens (All Blacks Sevens). Our pick: Hansen. Team of the year: All Blacks, Canterbury, Chiefs. Our pick: All Blacks.

- The Dominion Post

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