NZ Herald

Former British and Irish Lions and England coach Sir Clive Woodward has described Dan Carter as the best attacking No 10 he has seen – best not the best No 10 of all time.

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The former All Black great last night announced that he was hanging up his boots and retiring from all rugby.

Writing in his column for the Daily Mail, Woodward recalled Carter’s dominating performances in the All Blacks’ 2005 series against the Lions, who Woodward coached.

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“His 33 points in the second test at Wellington, including two brilliant tries, was off the Richter scale and possibly the best individual performance I have ever witnessed at test level. The Perfect 10.”

Woodward said that series was a wake-up call as to just how talented Carter was.

“Ahead of the tour I don’t think anybody in Britain and Ireland had really clocked the true depth of his talent. Until then he had played mainly at centre and kicked a good number of goals. He kicked a stack of penalties against England when we were on tour in 2004 but I don’t recall a scarily good superstar player at that stage. He was just a reliable Kiwi centre and a prolific kicker.

“That changed when he switched to 10 and New Zealand moved away from the brilliant but slightly erratic Carlos Spencer. It was his big chance and he seized it with both hands.”

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However, despite plenty of praise for Carter’s career, Woodward believes there is one first-five who was slightly better than the All Blacks great.

“Jonny Wilkinson or Dan Carter? That is the question I often get asked. It’s almost an impossible choice. They were, by some distance, the two pre-eminent fly-halves of their era — both incidentally natural left-footers.

“They were both tough and enduring — fly-halves are targeted in all levels of rugby, doubly so when they are world-class goalkickers. I would score Jonny and Dan about equal as the best goalkickers we have seen, Dan was the best attacking 10 I ever saw while Jonny was far and away the best defensive 10 I ever witnessed.

“So where does that leave us? If I was forced into a corner I would go with Jonny. Just. I was lucky enough to coach him for six years and knew his game intimately. With Dan I just admired from afar.”

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This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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