British rugby writer Stephen Jones has listed Dan Carter as only the 10th best first-five of all-time, instead opting for a left-field selection for his pick at No. 1.


Writing for the Sunday Times alongside fellow pundit Stuart Barnes, the pair ranked Carter in vastly different positions, with Barnes placing the former All Blacks pivot at the top of his rankings.

It isn’t the first time the duo have disagreed about the status of an All Blacks legend, with Jones last week leaving former New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw out of his top 10 all-time test captains, while Barnes placed him at No. 1.

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Jones didn’t even have Carter listed as his best All Blacks playmaker, with Andrew Mehrtens selected three spots higher seventh place.

Instead, he picked Welsh dual international David Watkins as his top pick, labelling the former British and Irish Lions and Great Britain rugby league star as “first sporting hero”.


Jones went on to describe Watkins as “character and entertainer, a man of no particular size but who was successful in the jealous cauldron of rugby league, who beat the All Blacks playing for his only union club, Newport, played gloriously for Wales, captained the Lions in test matches. He had a prime kicking game, was a master tactician, durable among the beasts of forward play. He was a dazzling runner.”

At the other end of the spectrum, he spoke of Carter reaching two peaks during his career – once during the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, and again 10 years later at the World Cup in England.

“He enjoyed a splendid run after injury in the 2011 World Cup and was probably at the second career peak in 2015 when the All Blacks won again,” Jones wrote.

“His first peak was when he took majestic charge of a thumping 3-0 series victory over the 2005 Lions.”


Meanwhile, Barnes, the former England and Lions playmaker, had no qualms in distinguishing Carter as “the greatest No. 10 of them all”.

“Granted, the 2005 British & Irish Lions were toothless but still, Carter’s second test performance against them in Wellington was as close to perfection as any 80 minutes I have seen from anyone, let alone a fly-half,” he wrote.

“A decade later, he was to dominate the semifinal and final of the World Cup. The greatest No. 10 of them all.”

Stuart Barnes’ top 10 No. 10s: 1 Dan Carter (New Zealand), 2 Phil Bennett (Wales), 3 Mark Ella (Australia), 4 Barry John (Wales), 5 Jonny Wilkinson (England), 6 Jonathan Davies (Wales), 7 Stephen Larkham (Australia), 8 Michael Lynagh (Australia), 9 Ronan O’Gara (Ireland), 10 Grant Fox (New Zealand).

Stephen Jones’ top 10 No. 10s: 1 David Watkins (Wales), 2 Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina), 3 Jonathan Davies (Wales), 4 John Rutherford (Scotland), 5 Michael Lynagh (Australia), 6 Phil Bennett (Wales), 7 Andrew Mehrtens (New Zealand), 8 Jonny Wilkinson (England), 9 Barry John (Wales), 10 Dan Carter (New Zealand).

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