Carter rallies under-fire All Blacks
August 20, 2009
Dan Carter's return to the All Blacks' ranks has lifted the entire squad © Getty Images
The return of fly-half Dan Carter has provided New Zealand with a much-needed lifted both on and off the field as they prepare for their Tri-Nations showdown with Australia.
The influential play-maker delivered a impassioned speech on his return to the All Blacks' ranks that his team mates claim hit the mark following their back-to-back defeats against South Africa.
"It's good for guys sitting on the outside to pick up things that aren't right then come in and tell it how it is," fullback Mils Muliaina said. "As the first-fives usually do, he said how we want to play and he brought that extra bit by telling us the little things we haven't got right.
"He's too good a player to come back and just sit there and wait for everyone else. He certainly led the way."
It was a timely speech from the 59-Test pivot who missed their South African struggles as he continued his comeback from an achilles tendon injury away from the glare of the battle for southern hemisphere supremacy.
"It was just his views and how we're going to address this game and some of the tactics," revaled Muliaina. "Just a calming influence, he just came in and got the boys up and said he thoroughly believed in them. That's all we needed to hear.
"Dan's just one of those guys, and outstanding athlete, and he's got the gift of the game. He's got the vision and he's an outstanding player, the sort of player you really want in your side."
Muliaina said the players got what they deserved from coach Graham Henry's "rark-up" in Auckland last Wednesday, and Carter's words added the icing in a more light-hearted tone. It ensured the All Blacks hit the ground running at their peaceful base at North Sydney Oval, with a lineup of security guards warning off prying eyes.
Scrum-half Jimmy Cowan, while paying due respect to Carter's predecessor Stephen Donald, said he was certainly aware of the great man's presence.
"He's got a fair bit to say and he certainly lets me know if I'm not doing things right or the passes aren't where he thinks they should be," Cowan said. "He keeps me honest. He's expressed his opinions throughout the week, got up and talked in front of the team and laid out the structure."
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter