Carter welcomes fly-half challengers
September 10, 2013
All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter is looking forward to linking up with Ma'a Nonu on Saturday © Getty Images
All Blacks ace fly-half Dan Carter is aware of the contenders for his role lining up behind him but he is thrilled at that because it is a timely spur to his own motivation.
Carter said in Auckland on Tuesday that nothing had changed in his career. There was no chance to get complacent about his position and having challengers made him train hard to make the most of the opportunities as they came along.
"Whenever I'm selected in the All Black jersey it's an exciting time for me just as it was when I first started my career and just wanting to make the most of every opportunity," he said.
Carter said he thought Saturday's match against South Africa was just the challenge the New Zealanders needed. The game is not quite a final of the Rugby Championship but the winner would be well on the road to wrapping the title up for 2013. He said the game would be a case of matching the Springboks physically while also out-thinking them as well.
"Looking at the way they are playing they are in great form, they are using the ball a lot more than they have in the past so it will make for an awesome match this weekend," he said. "This is going to be the biggest match of our year so far and potentially one of the biggest matches since the World Cup because of the form they are in. They are playing some great rugby and have shown that all year. When the No.1 and No.2 teams [of world rugby] meet it's always a huge occasion and here we are, at home on Eden Park against an in-form Boks side - it's an occasion you want to be part of."
Nothing has changed in the 92-year rivalry between the two nations. Success still started up front and Saturday would be a big game for the All Blacks' forwards, something they were primed for.
"If we can get quality ball to the backline that we have with a dangerous back three, who if we can give them opportunities, then we'll be able to score a few points. I'm confident our pack can really step up and have a big game," he said.
A tactical plan for the game had been worked out by the side's strategy group with the coaches and was delivered to the team early in the week.
"It's just a matter of getting all that clarity so you're not thinking about it when you're out there too much; you're just going out there and playing. And when we play our best is looking for cues and playing what we see which you can do if you do the work earlier in the week," he said.
Carter will have Ma'a Nonu back outside him at inside-centre and was excited to be back, especially against the South Africans.
"He's just one of those reliable guys who can get you over the gain-line whenever you need it. If you need the ball going forward he's a go-to man for myself. His footwork and strength are real attributes that encourages me to give him the ball. His experience as well, he's played in a lot of big matches in his career. On an occasion like this he's nice and relaxed, and thinking clear as well. He's a good player to have outside."