Carter buoyed by French success
September 25, 2011
Dan Carter keeps his eye on the ball during Saturday's impressive win over Les Bleus in Auckland © Getty Images
Dan Carter believes that after Saturday's clash with France in Auckland, the All Blacks are much better placed to go on and win the Rugby World Cup than they were at the same point in the tournament four years ago.
The Kiwis breezed through their pool in France in 2007, sweeping Italy, Scotland, Portugal and Romania aside with the minimum of effort as they set up a last-eight clash with Les Bleus in Cardiff. It was there, though, that Graham Henry's men sensationally came a cropper and some felt that they had arrived in the Welsh capital undercooked.
Consequently, Carter feels that having had as formidable opponent as the French in their pool this time around, they are now better prepared for the tougher tests which lie in wait for them in the knockout tages.
"It was good to get that kind of competition in pool play because that's the level, if not more, come quarter-final stages, so we just have to keep improving," the Crusaders playmaker said.
Carter insisted that while the All Blacks were highly motivated for Saturday's meeting with their 2007 conquerors, they were not driven by revenge.
"It was more about going out and playing a game we had targeted as the toughest game in our pool and obviously doing it for Richie [McCaw], rather than for what happened four years ago," he said, alluding to the fact that All Blacks skipper McCaw had earned his 100th Test cap at Eden Park.
Despite the controversy surrounding the allegedly second-string nature of the side chosen by Marc Lievremont for the game in Auckland, France actually started brightly and put their hosts under pressure early on. However, the All Blacks responded in devastating fashion, effectively putting the game beyond Les Bleus with tries from Adam Thomson, Cory Jane and Israel Dagg by the midway point of the first half.
"Once we got into our rhythm I thought we played well and scored a quick three tries after that and got a bit of momentum so I think in patches we played well and in patches the French team showed what they were capable of," Carter said.
The game was also a success on a personal level for Carter, who kicked three conversions, a penalty and a drop goal upon his return to the side after a minor back problem. "To get a good 80 minutes under the belt was really pleasing," he said.
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