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Dan Carter sees just one option at 10 for the Springboks

By Ian Cameron
Former All Blacks player Daniel Carter (C) speaks with a journalist during a ceremony where a traditional hand-carved Maori bench is given to the City of Lyon in thanks for the welcome of the All Blacks team, southeastern France, on September 27, 2023 (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images)

Dan Carter has weighed in on who he believes is the right flyhalf to start for South Africa in their Rugby World Cup final showdown against New Zealand on Saturday night.

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It’s a debate that has been raging in Springboks circles for the past month. Stormers’ playmaker Manie Libbok was Jacques Nienaber’s first choice 10 at the start of the tournament, but his issues from the kicking tee soon cast doubt over whether or not he was the right man to get the job done in the World Cup’s knockout stages.

Old-hand at the tiller Handre Pollard, who failed to make the initial squad due to injury, has since proven his value, playing a starring role in South Africa’s last-ditch win over England in the semi-final. Pollard came on after just 30 minutes, with Libbok struggling to make a positive impact for the Springboks in wet conditions.

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For many, it was a performance that should seal Pollard’s starting spot, although the Springboks coaching ticket has suggested that Libbok may well start again.

Now Dan Carter has had his say.

The All Blacks legend – who was speaking on the official Rugby World Cup podcast believes that Pollard – his old sparing partner from the 2015 Rugby Worled Cup final – should get the nod.

“[In the semi-final against England the Springboks] needed someone who would be calm, clear and decisive in a big game with World Cup experience. That is why they had Pollard on the bench. If he will be on the bench this week, it’s highly unlikely. Just to have that depth and control.

“I think with the pressure, the experience of Pollard in such a big occasion, with the hurt and learnings he had from 2015, he’s been on both sides, successful and unsuccessful campaigns,” Carter added. “He’s really going to play a key part, having that experience out there right out from the get-go.

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“It’s a tough one to take for Libbok but he has been a fantastic player, in different conditions, dry conditions, when it’s a bit more open.”

Carter believes the All Blacks must match the Boks physically if they are to win.

“They have to match them physically. That starts at the set piece. scrum, lineout and breakdown they need to match them. Then take their opportunities.”

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finn 5 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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