Henry heaps praise on record-breaker Carter
November 27, 2010
New Zealand's Dan Carter becomes the all-time leading Test points scorer © Getty Images
New Zealand head coach Graham Henry hailed Dan Carter as a "special" talent after the fly-half became the all-time leading Test points scorer during the All Blacks' victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
The 28-year-old Crusaders star did not have his best day with the boot during the 37-25 Grand Slam-clinching win over Wales, landing just five of his nine shots at goal. But his first penalty, a monster effort from 49 metres, after an early conversion miss saw him move above Jonny Wilkinson's previous mark of 1,178 points.
Carter, who ended today's contest with 1,188 points to his name, reached the total eight games quicker than Wilkinson, averaging just over 15 points per Test. And Henry paid a glowing tribute to a man he will be hoping can steer his side to World Cup glory on home soil next year.
"He has done that (broken the record) in less Test matches than anyone else, I think it's about eight less than Jonny," he said. "He is the navigator of our team, he is a very astute player. He is world class he and is perhaps the best number 10 in the world right now.
"He kicks well under pressure, he has a lot of composure and he has won lots of games for the All Blacks. He is a special guy in the team because he plays at 10, he runs the ship. Richie (McCaw) captains the ship and Dan navigates it and that combination is pretty special, and he is a special player."
Carter's mis-firing boot failed to detract from the latest achievement of a 79-Test career that started against Wales in Hamilton seven years ago. "I'm pretty proud of reaching that milestone," he said, before tempering his excitement. "I missed a few after that which was frustrating. I was pleased to get one over, I just wanted to get it over and done with, so I might have relaxed a bit."
Carter was using the relatively unfamiliar Webb Ellis brand ball, which is heavier than the adidas or Gilbert versions he is more accustomed to. Not that he was searching for excuses after 10 potential points went begging leaving him to settle for a dozen.
"I just pulled a couple to the right," he said. "The ball is a bit heavier so you can make the mistake of thinking you have to belt it a lot harder and you can lose a little bit of rhythm but I've kicked pretty well with them in the past."
Carter's landmark was warmly acknowledged by the crowd and when he activated his mobile in the All Black dressing room after the game congratulatory messages clogged his voicemail and inbox. "It's a good feeling," he said.
Carter acknowledged his father Neville, the man responsible for erecting that first set of goalposts in the backyard 20 years ago. "I know Dad's really happy with the record. I pay a lot of tribute to him because that's where it all started," he said before also crediting the kicking coaches that had moulded his technique.
Daryl Halligan, Robbie Deans and latterly Mick Byrne all deserved praise for guiding Carter to the peak of his powers. "They've all helped me along the way, I wouldn't have got where I am without them."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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