Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Carter joins ranks of rugby's best

Latest rugby union news

Dan Carter will join rugby union's 100-club when he trots out at Twickenham to face England on Saturday.

The 31-year-old New Zealand fly-half is not the only man who will be racking up such an achievement over the course of the weekend, with Gethin Jenkins, Martin Castrogiovanni and Sergio Parisse also sitting on 99 caps.

But the Crusaders star will be the most heralded when he becomes the All Blacks' fifth centurion, and he will be surrounded by men who know just how he feels.

Captain Richie McCaw, as well as Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock, have already surpassed the magical 100 mark but there have been plenty of names within the rugby world who have been full of praise for Carter over the past week.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has labelled him a 'special, special player,' while Aaron Smith, who will play alongside Carter during his landmark appearance, said he was the 'epitome of the All Blacks'.

Only good players can ever reach 100 caps, only very good players reach that mark playing for the best team in the world, and only those in the higher echelons of achievement receive such glowing praise from their peers.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley was equally unequivocal as he made no secret of where he felt Carter stood within the game.

"He is the best of the best," said Howley.

"The one thing you look for in outside-halves is an ability to see the game in front of them.

"Dan Carter has the ability to give himself time on the ball, he's an effective kicker with both feet, he ghosts through defences and has a sublime all-round skill set.

"Whenever we play against him, we are very aware of the running threat he poses. If he's not creating something he's creating space for others around him. That's a key ingredient of a 10."

Injury problems have resulted in Carter's century taking longer to come around than initially expected after he burst on to the international stage in the most memorable fashion in June 2003.

He put a strong Wales team, then coached by Hansen, to the sword and scored 20 points as people sat up to take notice of the new 21-year-old kid on the block.

Carter will no doubt be one of the major talking points as the All Blacks search to avenge their defeat at Twickenham last year but there will be much more to come from the latest 100-cap marvel, who will still be casting an eye forward to the World Cup in 2015.

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