Dan Carter led the Kobe Kobelco Steelers to victory in the Top League final this weekend, and with that victory the former New Zealand fly-half wins over the hearts of yet another nation.
Carter played a pivotal role against his old foe Matt Giteau, where the Steelers thrashed the Suntory Sungoliath by 55-5.
This wasn’t a one-off performance by the 36-year old, as he was named as Japan’s MVP in the Top League this season. It’s easy to see why he deserves this kind of award. In the semi-final against Toyota Verblitz, Carter notched up an impressive 21 points with a try and four penalties.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the former World Player of the Year scored a massive 28 points in the round before that, in the sides 63-27 win over the Ricoh Black Rams.
Carter is yet to have lost a game for the Steelers since he joined the club and it is a testament to the impact he has had on the team who were in second place when he arrived.
Since Carter’s arrival to Japan in September, the Top League has enjoyed far greater attention from the Rugby World. Other notable players in this league include Australia legend Matt Giteau and South Africa heavyweight Duane Vermeulen, but none of these players have been able to garner the same amount of attention on the league as Carter.
It is fair to argue that since New Zealand won the World Cup final in 2015, Carter has carried with him a status as one of the best tens of all time. In a similar fashion to Jonny Wilkinson at Toulon, the New Zealander appears to have retained the most important aspects of his game which keep him competent at a high level.
This illustrates how valuable an asset he is to any club, as he is a big name signing who has always been a consistent performer.
At Parisian side Racing 92, Carter famously helped steer the team to their first Top 14 title in 20 years. When the full-time whistle was blown, all cameras were on one man. With 15 points to his name, Carter proved yet again to the Rugby World that he was not simply signed to sell shirts, but he was in fact a crucial member of the team who could win trophies at the highest level.
In May of this year, RugbyPass spoke to Carter who spoke honestly about how ageing athletes need to train smarter in order to prolong their careers at the highest level. Speaking about approaching games he said,
“You can’t run around the training field like a young 20-year-old anymore. You actually have to train a lot smarter and use the experience that you’ve had throughout your career and this certainly affects the way in which you prepare for a game.”
From watching the Kobelco Steelers’ ten in action, it is apparent that he no longer has the speed in his legs that stunned the British & Irish Lions team in 2005, or the acceleration in his feet that helped him outrun the Waratahs in the 2008 Super 14 final. What is evident however, is that Carter still and always will preserve his vision for a game which has helped him to dictate the pace and style of a match for his team.
Full interview below…
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