Carter and the All Blacks ready to match up with Cooper and Wallabies
Dan Carter, the New Zealand fly-half, will line up against the man many say is set to take his crown as the best No 10 in the world when they meet Australia in Saturday's Tri Nations match at Eden Park in Auckland.
Carter and Quade Cooper last met in the Super Rugby final, a match turned by Cooper's brilliant performance and which ensured the two Tests ahead of the World Cup would be keenly awaited as the two would be going head-to-head again.
Carter, regarded as the best in his position since the British & Irish Lions tour of 2005, said he had not played against Cooper much at international level, but that he regarded Cooper and the Australia scrum-half, Will Genia, as probably one of the most complementary combinations to have played the All Blacks in recent times.
"Quade is a very free-flowing player, and [he] just plays off the cuff quite a lot and has all the skills to be able to get away with it and do it well," Carter said. "I think what helps him is the guy inside him [Genia], because he reads the game so well. He's got great vision and he picks his time well, so he's the real mastermind of that Australian side and back line. He's a world-class player. It's important we cut down their time and space, and also their opportunities, which isn't easy but that's the kind of challenge we love."
Carter said that pointless kicks with Cooper hanging at the back of the Australian line were out of the question.
"You have to be clinical and accurate for 80 minutes, because it could be in the last minute that you give them the opportunity, and they'll make the most of it because they are extremely dangerous with the ball in hand," he said.
From a kicking perspective, Carter thought it was all about mixing it up to keep the Australians guessing whether there might be kicks to the corner, short kicks or even high bombs that hang in the air.
While the All Blacks were happy with their efforts in their 40-7 victory over South Africa in Wellington last weekend, the moment the final whistle blew they were already turning their attentions towards the Wallabies at Eden Park.
"We realised it was going to be a much tougher, and stronger, opposition with an Australian side that is playing well and a lot of players that are in form," Carter said.
Some of the players are also feeding off comments coming out of the Australian camp that the All Blacks are an ageing team. "With such a group of young, talented players, they are an extremely confident bunch, and I guess that is part of the reason why they really back themselves," Carter said.
Published: August 6, 2011 04:00 AM