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The small-town values that made Dan Carter

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Ben Dirs | 08:58 UK time, Thursday, 22 September 2011

Southbridge

When Christchurch was struck by an earthquake in February, Neville Carter packed up his firefighting equipment and headed for the carnage. "As everyone was leaving the city, I was heading in," says Neville. "People would put their thumbs up from underneath the rubble and the crowd would roar. But we knew there were heaps of others."

Neville has a tighter handle on the notion of heroism than most - but he is also acutely aware that heroism comes in many different guises.

So while there is no shrine, as yet, to the brave men and women who risked their lives to save others, he fully understands why the small country town of Southbridge is one giant shrine to his son, a certain Daniel William Carter.

"Southbridge is such a small community," says the town rugby club's manager Chris 'Roundy' McMillan, "so people get very emotional when they see Dan playing for the All Blacks. Everybody knows him - people might have taught him at school or coached him. The kids just adore him, and you should see some of the old boys' faces when he's about - they adore him, too."


New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter

The perfect 10? Carter carries the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. Photo: Getty

McMillan is the man at the controls of the Carter industry, an industry the people of Southbridge hoped would see World Cup fever visited upon their settlement of 750 souls. But when the earthquake struck, the Canterbury region suddenly found itself left out of proceedings.

"We had so many things that were going to happen," says Neville. "We were looking forward to hosting the French and having 'Carter Country Tours', bus loads coming out from Christchurch. But we carried on with Plan B, the 'Carter Country Experience': campervans on site, people from all over coming through. We're the fifth oldest rugby club in New Zealand, founded in 1876, so apart from Daniel, there's an awful lot of heritage."

The handsome glass cabinet built to house Carter's memorabilia is testament to one of the stellar All Black careers: an IRB player of the year trophy, three hulking man-of-the-match awards from Tests at Twickenham ("England can't be that good if he's got three of those," quips Neville), a Lions shirt worn by Jonny Wilkinson. But there, almost hidden among the Carter paraphernalia, is the one thing the superstar fly-half does not have and the one thing he covets most - a World Cup winner's medal.

The owner of that medal is a walking, talking exemplar of the amateur age - Albert 'Albie' Anderson. Fresh off his dairy farm, the Canterbury legend - owner of six All Blacks caps and a pair of hands like baseball mitts - reacts to most of my questions with a look that says: "Aah, mate, that was all in the past." "How do you win a World Cup?" I ask, unperturbed. "Play hard, I'spose," answers Anderson. "It was a few years ago now - '87, wasn't it?"

"You don't live on those sorts of things," he adds. "In awe of me? The current players wouldn't even know me. They're not worried about some old fart from 24 years ago. And round here they have their heroes cleaning the bloody windows - inside and outside!"

While Anderson's window-washing complaints are strictly tongue in cheek, the contrast between 'Albie's table' - on which sits his medal, an All Blacks cap and a ball signed by himself and the rest of the fabled World Cup-winning team - and the Carterana all around it tells its own story.

"We didn't even get a picture of us with the cup," says Anderson. "We won it on the Saturday, packed up on the Sunday and I was at work on the farm at 8 o'clock on Monday morning. I'll have a chip on my shoulder 'til the day I die [about not playing in the professional era]. Mind you, Dan was down here the other night with Jimmy Cowan and Ali Williams and I'm told they were having a pretty close look at that table."

Anderson, a member of the All Blacks' World Cup-winning squad in 1987, with his medal

Carter was indeed back home last Saturday, his visit coinciding with that of 10 Irishmen, in town to get a glimpse of the famous man's trophies, signed jerseys and boots, but not necessarily the man himself. Says Neville: "To come to this small town and have three All Blacks walk in, well, they thought they were in heaven.

"But one thing Daniel's been taught is that Southbridge is where he comes from, so any chance to get out here he does. This is his wee retreat. People will come in, say 'how you going Dan?' and just have a cup of coffee and a bit of a yarn. You've got to have that balance, because the pressure must be horrific at times."

Behind us, Carter's sister Sarah is busy painting campervan signs. "Still the same old Dan?" I ask her. "He has to be," she replies, "I told him if he gets a big head he'd be in a lot of trouble." But when your little brother is plastered all over New Zealand wearing just his pants and a Mona Lisa smile, it must be a jaw-dropping, head-shaking experience at times.

"A couple of years ago, Daniel phoned his mother and told her to go for a drive down Durham Street in Christchurch and she looked up and nearly crashed the car," says Neville. "There he was, on a massive billboard, eight storeys tall, just in his underwear. He's on the back of buses, all over supermarkets, but we've sort of got used to it now."

McMillan drives me out to the Carter family house to see the now famous rugby posts on the perfectly-manicured front lawn, erected by Neville when Dan was eight and where the little kid with the wand of a left foot honed his considerable natural talent.

"He used to kick the ball over the house and break a few windows, so we decided to buy some land next door and build some goalposts," says Neville. "They were full-size, but even at eight he could kick over them quite easily. Then, when he was 12, he decided he wanted to be an All Black, so I told him, 'we'll do everything for you, but you've got to be self-motivated, you've got to do the hard yards'.

"And now, he doesn't just want to be an All Black, he wants to be a great All Black, so he still has to work harder than everyone else.

"The Wednesday before the World Cup I went up to Auckland and we went over the park and spent an hour-and-a-half kicking the ball, although it was supposed to be his day off. A couple of times I didn't pass him the ball as well as he would have liked and he gave me a bit of stick. So I said to him, 'it's not the passer, it's the kicker - keep your head down, drive through, and you'll be right'. And he knocked over four in a row."

Throughout our chat, Neville, unlike the chest-beating, puffed-up dads you will see on touchlines across England on any given Sunday, remains endearingly understated about his son's significantly greater achievements. But when talk turns to his off-field activities, that's when Neville beams.

"After the earthquake, Daniel was staying with us for a few nights and he told us he had an appointment in town," says Neville. "But we found out he spent the day going round three retirement villages. He called in to see how they were, had a cup of coffee, found out how their knitting was going. We only knew about it because one of the old guys who used to play rugby out here rang me to say Daniel had just dropped in.

"Those old people had been through a horrific experience, so for an All Black to drop in and say g'day and have a yarn with them, it put a smile back on their faces. We're more proud of the things he does behind the scenes than what he does on the rugby field."

As I am about to leave, a couple of Aussie fans wander in, order a beer and take a pew. "How many All Blacks you got?" one of them barks. "Just the two," says McMillan, as laconically as he can muster. The Aussie looks singularly unimpressed. Maybe pop by again in another five weeks, mate, when I strongly suspect you'll get to clap your eyes on another World Cup winner's medal.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Great read. On the Lions Tour in 2005, after the third test, Carter and company came to the ABC hostel bar and if anyone wanted a photo with him, he'd ask you to buy him and yourself a beer and skull it together. I'm sure he changed his strategy after the first few requests.

    Having access to full size post in your garden at the age of 8 along with his clearly humble and supportive upbringing reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule. Clearly, already one of the the greats.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ben, another outstanding blog. These little back stories about the game and the players are fantastic, and show exactly what rugby is all about. Not the swill that is being thrown up about dwarfgate etc.

    Thanks for this, keep em coming!

  • Comment number 3.

    Carter...what a player...compared to Johnny Wilk all the time but in my opinion at his best he is still better then Johnny at his best which is something special.

    New Zealand all the way in this world cup...lead by Carter's brillance!

  • Comment number 4.

    Carter is an incredible player. Love the fact that his dad's still giving him rugby related advice! Great article Ben.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good article Ben, very readable

  • Comment number 6.

    Lovely stuff, keep it coming. I am afraid the last couple of lines passed me by though. I am just wondering if there is any chance you can do a piece on each team in the Quarter finals... on the lesser lights, or unsung heros. For example everyone has heard of Dan Carter, but I am sure there is an all black who isn't so famous... who might be only making his mark now this tournament, same with all the other teams too. Nice to see intelligent writing, makes a change from the football blogs.

  • Comment number 7.

    These articles are among the most enjoyable stories about the tournament and really help to paint the picture of Rugby in NZ. Well done Ben.. look forward to the next.

  • Comment number 8.

    Another great blog Ben,

    As JH said much more interesting the scandals and other claptrap.

    Got to love Anderson's old school attitude and was good and bad to hear him say he had a chip about the current era. Good in that it was a player who missed out giving an honest answer instead of the usual 'back in my day we played for the love of it', and bad for the obvious reason that he did actually miss out on what alot of todays players seem to take for granted.

    Big hats off to one of the best players of his generation being so grounded but reading this it is obvious to see where he gets it from. Job well done Mr and Mrs Carter.

    Am guessing that the aussie's who had walked in were from one of the bigger clubs in Sydney like Easts, Gordon or the like and just don't get how different club rugby is over the ditch. Have had many a great day visiting some of the valley clubs in Wales and finding out about the handful of Welsh rep's they have produced and how proud they are and how humble they try to keep them.

  • Comment number 9.

    Oh and if anyone gets a chance and has not seen it would advise you to look up Sekope Kepu going back to his old school and watch the emotion when he talks.

  • Comment number 10.

    it's a grave shame your profile picture makes you look like Norman Pace- half of Britain's least funny comedy duo.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm South African and am all for the boks but it's always good to hear stories like this about sportsmen esp ones as big as Dan Carter....Still hoping we keep the world cup though because we couldn't get the cricket world cup and there was little near no chance of us getting the soccer world cup. That aside I can see myself not complaining if Dan leads the All Blacks to victory of we don't get it. Awesome Blog.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great article. As someone mentioned above, it is much better to read an interesting story on a players background/life rather than speculative stories based off rumour or hype.

  • Comment number 13.

    great article, really hope nz win the wc so carter and mccaw two truely great players have no question marks over their careers

  • Comment number 14.

    @1, Wordsworth,

    After the 3rd Lions test in 2005 I shared a beer and a chat with Mils Muliaina in the bar of the Heritage Hotel in Auckland. He approached us and struck up a conversation. He commended us Lions fans on our support, asked us where we were from, chatted about the Super 14 and some other stuff for a while, then moved on and did the same with another group of Lions fans. Absolutely fantastic guy, been rooting for him ever since.

    Ben, you're on top form with these blogs. I'm really enjoying reading an article where someone has gone to find something out for themselves a.k.a journalism instead of rehashing the nonsense they got from the internet. Like Fordyce and his Drugs in Sport Whereabouts thing, good work.

  • Comment number 15.

    Great blog again Ben!

  • Comment number 16.

    Agree that this was a great read.

    Have a friend of a friend anecdote about Dan Carter that I never knew whether to believe or not - this article suggests it may well be true......I worked with a Kiwi who said he was good friends with Dan Carter and knew his family as he grew up with him. Said he was a great guy, very down to earth, even when he became a superstar. The bit I loved was how he would still occasionally turn up for a local 7s tournament with his mates (whilst probably being the best 10 in world rugby). Imagine that!!! Wonder if anyone got near him?

  • Comment number 17.

    Great Blog Ben, reminded me of when Dan came back from his achillies injury a couple of years ago, he turned out for his local Southbridge team for his first game back! No closed training sessions or cosy friendly games with the Crusaders, just a run of the mill lower league game with the lads. A real down to earth guy.

  • Comment number 18.

    Absolute breath of fresh air again Ben... there excellent blogs in a row. Keep them coming.
    It's not unusual to see current or former AB's at the local pitch on Saturday morning. Recently my youngest son was being reffed by Taine Randal at a Hastings Junior Rugby Club.

  • Comment number 19.

    Good to see the 10,000 hour myth putting in another appearance.

  • Comment number 20.

    Another good article Ben, to go along with the one on Russia rugby team and Jacques Burger. I echo everyone else's sentiments in calling for more of the same, these blogs are genuinely fascinating.

  • Comment number 21.

    @james matthews you state
    "Carter...what a player...compared to Johnny Wilk all the time but in my opinion at his best he is still better then Johnny at his best which is something special"
    Carter has a totally of skill that no one let alone Johnny Wilkinson comes close to matching. The only aspect that Johnny Wilkinson comes close on is place kicking. The only outside half that even bears comparison to him is Barry John. Carter is just the complete outside half/rugby player

  • Comment number 22.

    @hugo,

    This is hard to say but think your being a tad harsh on JW, defensively and in tactical kicking I think he is as good, fair enough he does not have the running game that DC has but his distribution is also up there it is just I think he does not trust those outside him at the moment and also you are not comparing them prime for prime. DC is at the top of his game at the moment whereas JW best years were two world cups ago.

  • Comment number 23.

    Wilkinson in seasons 2001-3 especially 2002 he was in a class of his own. His style and England's game plan did not need a running ten, but his distripution was outstanding.
    But Carter in my opinion is the complete package. He has and does everything that in my opinion has made him the best ten test rugby has seen to date. His performance in the second test against the Lions 2005 is the most complete game I've witness.
    He is a true living legend of the game.

  • Comment number 24.

    DC is a class act, and what you describe is pretty typical of the towns in the Canterbury hinterlands ( and probably all of provincial New Zealand ).

    He should have that medal in his cabinet and I hope to God, Allah, Yahweh, Ganehsa and Rangi and Papa that he gets one this time round.

  • Comment number 25.

    #21...totally agree...hence my point...people keep comparing them purely cos Johnny and Dan are miles ahead on the all time points scored.
    Not taking away from Johnny he was amazing but Carter is a different beast for sure...the all round package.

    So is anyone calling this weekend to be the AB's choke? Or will it be later on?

  • Comment number 26.

    Great Blog ben, more of the same please, much better than the normal recycled journalistic rubbish!

  • Comment number 27.

    The only fly-half I enjoy watching as much as DC is Juan Martin Hernandez. I think he may actually be the better player, but he plays with a much weaker team so doesn't get as much chance to shine.

    In relation to the JW/DC argument - DC is a better player, but JW pretty much singlehandedly changed the way rugby is player. Before him, it was a bonus if your 10 could tackle. Now, Quade Cooper is the only one I can think of who doesn't.

  • Comment number 28.

    Great blog ben, very enjoyable read. The key to a blog is to give insight into what makes a player or the culture of where they are from rather than just list their achievements. You and Tim Vickery are definitely the 2 best bloggers on BBC Sport. I really wish some of the other guys would not be so lazy and talk of last weekends game and call it a blog, rather find gems or funny stories which inform the reader!

  • Comment number 29.

    Heart-warming! More please!

  • Comment number 30.

    Very nice article - although I'd take issue with the "considerable natural talent" comment - closely followed by how he had his own field and posts as a child, parents who passionately supported him, and a huge dedication to being the best.

    Natural talent? Sounds more like hard work, intensive practice and plenty of support. Amazing how many "naturally talented" people have had that combination behind them.

    We should be telling kids they can become the new Dan Carter by replicating that - not that they need to have "natural talent".

    To paraphrase Gary Player "The more I practice, the more naturally talented I get".

  • Comment number 31.

    #30...your talking rubbish. Do you think that Dan Carter is the only player in the world who had access to a kicking post from an early age? Be it in the back garden or across the road in the local pitch. Off course its because he has huge natural talent. Millions of kids all over the world have parents who push them to be the best at sports and erect posts out the back yard or cut a putting green or have a tennis court.

    Yet its only once and a while that a super star in a certain sport comes along...thats because they have the talent combined with opportunity and determination. You can be sure there are kids out there that worked twice as hard as DC growing up but just didnt have the natural ability to make it and then faded away.

    Talent cant be thrown to the side as if it doesnt matter and for you to say that all you need to do is work hard! No way Jose! No way!

  • Comment number 32.

    Now Ben!

    If you continue with these interesting, insightful and tender articles, we shall have to change our opinion of you.

  • Comment number 33.

    Good blog - reminded me of the backgrounds of the starting roster of the gold medal Canadian men's hockey team - only 6 of 23 came from major Canadian cities. The rest came from tiny places like Cole Harbour N.S and Aneroid Sask. Small towns can ferment that desire, those values and, let's face it, the time and space to perfect. There's nothing else to do in Aneroid Sask but skate and shoot.....

  • Comment number 34.

    Ben, great blog. Keep them coming.

    It's nice to know that the likes of Dan Carter and Jaques Burger don't let the fame and fortune change them so much. It is a testament to our great sport that the guys who play top flight domestic and international rugby can still mingle with the amatures.

    I used to live around the corner from George Skivington (England Saxons & Leicester) & Shane Geraghty when they were at WASP's and Irish respectively. They were the same, nice guy's to have a beer and chat with in the pub. No ego's and easy going.

    Any chance of an article on Marius Tincu of Romania, Fairbrother of Canada, Gorgodze of Georgia or on Alridge of Japan?

    @ # 27

    Danny Cipriani, Charlie Hodgeson and Ronana O'Gara are 3 Fly Halves who can't Tackle.

  • Comment number 35.

    Ben, I've got nothing I want to add or take issue with in relation with this blog, but with a lot of contributors here, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Thanks very much.

    Being English, with a little bit of Irish thrown in, my leanings towards who I want to do well in this World Cup hold no surprises. But were the AB's to win, I certainly wouldn't begrudge Dan Carter and his teamates their medals.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hooker you forgot to add Dan Parks. John Rutherford and Craig Chalmers were certainly to Scots number tens who were not scared to tackle.

  • Comment number 37.

    35.
    Very sporting of you. I to believe it or not do not begrude any team who picks up the winning medals at the end of the day. If they get there it will be on merit.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hooker, Porridge - I agree that there are still some 10s who can't tackle, and that before JW there were 10s who could and would. However, JW pretty much made it a requirement that international fly-halves (fly-halfs?) had to tackle well.

    Or maybe it was just the ongoing process of professionalism, and this is correlation but not cause.

    I'm not sure, but a straw poll of 1 (me!) comes down on cause. So many people watched him play and took what he did to the practise, and then playing pitches. In much the same vein as I see players at this WC emulating SBWs* back of the hand flick pass.

    *I know he didn't invent it, but how often have you seen people attempt it in the last year since he burst onto the scene? And, how many times before then?

  • Comment number 39.

    Sorry - the end of my 1st paragraph should have finished:

    'Although you have each named some shockingly powder-puff tacklers, Quade Cooper is the only 10 who gets removed from the channel defensively to hide further in the backs. Admittedly, this also allows him to see and plan better, which is a bonus in itself, but the main reason is because he is SO bad at tackling."

  • Comment number 40.

    Tony Brown - former All Black - of Otago and the Highlanders was/is a fantastic defensive ten.
    Yes Illumi... JW did make a lot of teams sit up and take note that that channel was not an easy option. Often thought he had a somewhat unorthodox technique at times which I'm sure lent to many of his - unfortunate - injuries, but fearless all the same.
    Dan Carters defence in the Beldisloe Cup test at Eden Park last months was something to behold.

  • Comment number 41.

    Oh! Did someone mention place kicking? If I'm not mistaken, all you Jaahneeeee!! fans, Scotland's Chris Paterson is way better. The stats speak for themselves. It always amused me how many England fans live in self-denial, consistently believing JW is the best kicker/10/tackler/etc.etc.etc. One great game and he's forever the best. Don't forget Mike Catt had to be put on to 'protect' and 'channel' little Johnnie in one world cup (can't recall which). He also operated behind a brute of a pack that would give an advantage to anyone, even Dan Parks. Note the comment above about Juan Martin Hernandez. He didn't save his club Newcastle so I'm not so sure he's a game breaker. Dan Carter is. Full stop. He's in a different class - in place kicking CP might be worth comparing with him. I greatly appreciated reading this blog piece - shame my 7 year old can't read it so well as he's trying to model himself on on the man! BTW, I mean no disrespect to JW, funnily enough though it may look like I do; what is tiresome is the constant talking up of a player who has had his moments. I'm sure he himself could do without that.

  • Comment number 42.

    I reckon JW is one of these outstanding players that we will only really truly appreciate when he's retired - like Pete Sampras or Lance Cairns. Of course Pomgolians set great stock by him and they should.

    Grant Fox was a great kicker and passer but not a try-scorer or a big tackler, Merhts was a great kicker and passer and a bit of a try-scorer but not a defensive giant, Carlos could do the same when the mood took him, and now there's DC who can do all of the above and has a decent defence.

    Somewhere out there there has to be the next evolutionary step for New Zealand first-fives.

    Step forward that man.

    ...errr, not so fast Mr Donald.

  • Comment number 43.

    The young lad at Taranaki... his name slips my mind. Huge boot, great runnng game and solid enough defence.

  • Comment number 44.

    Pomgolia... not heard that before, but I like it. If we use that, can we get ourselves a new "national" anthem?

  • Comment number 45.

    @james matthews you state
    "Carter...what a player...compared to Johnny Wilk all the time but in my opinion at his best he is still better then Johnny at his best which is something special"
    Carter has a totally of skill that no one let alone Johnny Wilkinson comes close to matching. The only aspect that Johnny Wilkinson comes close on is place kicking. The only outside half that even bears comparison to him is Barry John. Carter is just the complete outside half/rugby player

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    I think James Matthews was referring to the Wilkinson of old.

    The current Jonny Wilkinson is a fine player.

    The Jonny Wilkinson from 2000-2003 (and also brief spells in 2007-2008) was the best 10 in the world and one of the best players on the international scene.

    Nearly 5 years out of the game tends to take a bit out of you…….something Dan Carter hasn’t had to deal with.


    The fact is nearly 10 years ago Wilkinson was sublime. Every aspect of his game was inch perfect. The only thing Wilkinson has arguably improved is his tackling.


    So here goes……


    I think the Jonny Wilkinson OF OLD was a better player than Dan Carter

  • Comment number 46.

    JW was, and is, a great player, but has never had the game breaking skills- the sublime ability to glide through gaps, even when it looks like there was no gap - that DC has. I wonder, though, had he had the NZ coaching just how good he could have been beause he seems to have all the skills, or did a few years ago anyway. Possibly he's been the victim of the English obsession with bulking up, and his running skills have suffered as a result.

    For my money, Carter's as good as it gets but there have been many brilliant fly-halves over the years and imo Barry John, as was mentioned above, is probably the best of the rest - hard to compare though, as the game was so different in those days and I've only seen him on TV...

  • Comment number 47.

    Don't forget Mike Catt had to be put on to 'protect' and 'channel' little Johnnie in one world cup (can't recall which).

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Because JW was being targeted.........hmmmmm I wonder why???


    Labuschagne got a straight red for late tackle on Wilkinson.


    Betsen was at it again in the 2003 world cup, that time it was only a yellow.

  • Comment number 48.

    Because JW was being targeted.........hmmmmm I wonder why???

    That fact doesn't automatically imply - as your question suggests - that he's great and therefore he'd naturally be targeted. It's not rocket science. He's the No10. Most No10s are targeted. Even Dan Carter is. Catt's role I've long suspected was about more than just protection as it hinted at an underperforming JW who needed support. Hence the addition of 'channel'.

  • Comment number 49.

    Love DC and think he is the best of his generation. It is impossible to compare eras as the game has changed so much but would throw another name just to spice up the discussion.

    Mark Ella

  • Comment number 50.

    Very good player - if he can lead NZ to world cup victory then I'll talk about him alongside Wilkinson.

  • Comment number 51.

    With the greatest amount of respect to Johnny Wilkinson who has nothing to prove to anyone, Dan Carter is one of the greatest ever,certainly the finest player of the professional era.Barry John was called the king because he seemed to play a different game to everybody else and it's taken the best part of 40 years for someone to take over the mantle.

  • Comment number 52.

    Catt played alongside Wilkinson in the semi vs France - a tactical decision used in one game in the 2003 wc and a good one at that - to suggest that this somehow undermines Wilkinson's ability at FH sounds a bit lame to me. By the same token you could dismiss Carter based on him being ineffective in NZ world cup losses ?

    Carter is a very good player, but has spent most of his career with the luxury of playing in a very dominant team and a team that has come unstuck at the most important moments - as chief decision maker in the team he has to take some responsibility for not coiming through those crises moments.

  • Comment number 53.

    well, the Daily Tel has announced today I think (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/rugby-world-cup/greatestxv/8741811/The-Telegraph-panel-reveal-their-back-row-and-half-back-selections-for-the-Greatest-RWC-XV.html%29 its greatest world cup 15 and both JW and DC (no ME alas) were on the shortlist and the winner at No10 is.................................................................................
    ..................................................................Michael Lynagh!
    So, there you have it. I'd still have gone for Dan. Brian Moore was on the all-English panel BTW, just in case the JW fans suspect a vile plot.

    And anyway, going back to THAT match, all JW did was take penalties, and drop a goal seconds from time (how many winning goals have been dropped in rugby history - hmmm, oh yes, remember 2007...and public enemy No1, Jannie de Beers). England's try was scored by one Jason Robinson ably put there by one Lawrence Dallaglio. They were just two of the other 14 English guys on the pitch who must have had *some* say in the proceedings. I'm sure JW himself would concur with that.

  • Comment number 54.

    First off great blog. So good to hear that these superstars are just normal people and they realise that too. Kind of goes against the other blog where the ABs were being called arrogant. This shows the opposite.
    It is also another reason why I favour Rugby over Football. One of many.

    @41 Gyro-11: Really? Chris Patterson has been good for Scotland but not really in the same class. I do believe he has the best kicking rate percentage wise (I could be wrong, can't look it up at the moment), but I think that is down to how little he actually kicks, and where he kicks from. You might be over hyping him here!

    JW lacks the running game of DC. DC would be better if he could kick like JW (Forgetting JW kicking form this WC). However if you swapped the teams they played in would they have such an effect? DC making breaks but isolated due to lack of support, ball gets turned over instead of try scored. JW opperating behind a weaker back, kicking game taken to shreds. Maybe their slight differences make them ideal for the teams they play in.
    But two sporting greats, both done a lot for the game of rugby. I do sometimes wonder who would be leading point scorer if they both had stayed injury free!

  • Comment number 55.

    Love your blogs, Ben - keep them coming!
    Former Englishman, now a NZer in the Waikato.
    The down to earth rugby player is a common theme here in NZ. Warren Gatland, the Welsh coach is guaranteed to visit the Taupiri Tavern, next to his old club during his stay - he'll be in jeans and an old jumper, having a beer with his old mates.

  • Comment number 56.

    YouTube "All Blacks/Adidas, Dan Carter and his dad". Always a goody. Showing him nail a few shots next to the family house.

  • Comment number 57.

    One man does not a team make...! As world class as DC is, he needs 14 other world class lumps to turn up and do the biz as well... On paper, nz should take this weekend game v France, but I just have a feeling this could be a bogey fixture... I also suspect Australia will have gone through some pretty deep soul searching and associated punishments over the last few days, so it's too early to write them off as well... Fate will not bring nz the rwc title, just being better than the other team for about 80 minutes at the right point in time. As you can see, i am not a romantic... By the way...anyone interested in submitting a 'world 15' based on all teams' performances so far...?!

  • Comment number 58.

    @ 53: "England's try was scored by one Jason Robinson ably put there by one Lawrence Dallaglio. They were just two of the other 14 English guys on the pitch who must have had *some* say in the proceedings. I'm sure JW himself would concur with that."

    I repeat a quite by Phil Vickery I have used on a previous blog. "Could we have won the WC with out Johnny? Possibly. Could he had won it without us. Deffiantely not. And he would agree with this."

    From what I have seen of both JW and DC despite being at the top of their game they both remain incredibly humble. Which only adds to why they are two sproting greats. Sprots stars should realise they are role models, and kids in this day and age need more role models like these......not the John Terry's and Ryan Giggs that seem to dominate other sports.

  • Comment number 59.

    I remember meeting Sean Fitzpatrick and Tuigumala in Auckland prior to the RWC in '91. Nice blokes who took the time to say hello and we chatted for 15 - 20 minutes. Another sporting great who has a lot of time for you is Adam Gilchrist. Of course, such meetings are not newsworthy until interesting blogs such as this appear. It is refreshing to learn of sport superstars being warned about egos getting too big by sisters. I still dine out on the fact I met two All Blacks, over 20 years ago and I'm as English as you can get

  • Comment number 60.

    43.. Beauden Barrett?

  • Comment number 61.

    Ben,

    Great blog, these last few have become compulsive reading, and put a new dimension to a competition happening so far away.

    My son is across there on a 12 month visa, and just had a job interview in Christchurch. Now facing a quiet weekend, so on the back of this have told him to get off to Southbridge!

    Keep these stories coming, they've now become the first thing I look for on the BBC Sport website.

  • Comment number 62.

    Post #52 repeats the mistake of others if it refers to the DC's involvement in the 2007 loss to France in Cardiff - the one RWC loss he has been involved in. I wish he was on the field to make those decisions as the clock ticked down but he had gone off injured early in the 2nd half. His replacement Nick Evans also went off injured after a short time so there was a great deal of disruption to the NZ backline - one of the many reasons for the loss.

  • Comment number 63.

    No doubt Carter is a better player than Wilkinson when see as an out and out attacking fly-half.

    Wilkinson however is perhaps a better place kicker and a better tactical kicker. What people have to remember about Wilkinson is also that post the 2003 world cup, his career went into freefall as he had injury after injury and barely played any rugby. He missed 2 or 3 years at the height of his powers YET unlike Carter he has played in 2 successive world cup finals.

  • Comment number 64.

    @63: I dont know how much it shows about JW as an induvidual that he has played in 2 successive WC finals, think it shows more about the team and style of play. But you are right to mention the fact that he was off the international stage for so long. Would he be much of a different player if he had not had those absences? Maybe a little charper, and deffinately more experienced.

    I wonder which of the two will be able to last at the top longer? JW is the fittest memeber of the England set up......I wonder where he compares to members of the Welsh team?

  • Comment number 65.

    Gyro-11



    I was talking about targeting as DELIBERATELY trying to hurt someone.


    Hence why I mentioned Labuschagne' RED card for DELIBERATELY trying to injure Englands best player.


    hmmmmm why would a professional rugby player run the risk of being sent off just to injure Jonny Wilkinson....???

  • Comment number 66.

    Ahhhh I have just realised you are are Scottish......that explains the Jonny bashing!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 67.

    Another Fantastic blog! Rugby is not my first sport but your blogs are becoming the highlight of my week at the moment. Really enjoying them.

    i think the debate between who is better between DC and Jw will rumble on for a few more years. People will say that the points bored doesn't lie but with Jw being injured for so much of his career i think it is a measure of his talent that he is still so close to DC. I think it is so hard to state who is better when it is the little things that stand them apart from the rest of the world. Two great players and an advert for the world of rugby!

    @ 58

    i think it is slightly unfair to say that John Terry and Ryan giggs dominate the world of football. Neither has ever been world player of the Year and if you look at many of those who have been WPOTY you will see that they are very good role models. Lionel Messi is a fantastic player and gives so much back to both his country of birth (argentina) and his new adopted nation (spain). Yes there are some bad eggs in football and unfortunately they get far too much press coverage and an even greater amount of money. But to say that stars in other sports are not role models is slightly unfair.

    rugby has its fair share of players who have indiscretions, luckily for them the press coverage isn't as big! Tuilagi punched ashton 3 times, can't remember the last time i saw Ryan Giggs or John Terry punching a fellow player! Of course some footballers have been involved in scraps, but no more than in rugby.

    just feel that your bias against football has led you to believe that the players are far worse than is true!

  • Comment number 68.

    @ 65.........sadly its classed as a professional foul, when really its closer to assult. Some people will do anything to win.

    @ 67 liverpaul85 you have miss understood me. I was not saying that they are the best footballers or even close. I was talking about them as role models off the pitch, and both of them managed to dominate headlines with their shenanigans. Hence they are not being very good headlines. And yes Rugby headlines are never as big as Footballs, but then that should be more of an insentive for them to bed better behaved because they cant get away with it, and they are more peoples role models.

    You are right, I do have a bias against football and a lot of its players. I however do not tarnish them all with the same brush. And I believe my dislike to footballers to be totally reasonable! They are just as bad as I think they are. (again I will repeat that I don't tarnish them all the same!)

  • Comment number 69.

    @ 68

    Are they as bad as you think they are or is it just another example of the british media not exposing the whole truth!

    Did you know that most footballers pay 2% of their wages to a charity every month? do you know the number of charities that have been set up by footballers/clubs? do you know how much of their free time they use to visit kids in hospitals and youth offender institutes?

    Do you know about rio ferdinand going back down to the area of london he grew up in to try and get the names of murderers to help the police?

    to be honest, most of the things you read in the papers about footballers are personal things that have no business being broadcast. of course there is the odd few that have indiscretions with the law but no more than with rugby players.

    At the end of the day, footballers, rugby players, olympians, etc. shouldn't have to lead their lives around what WE say is right. they are individuals and as long as they do their best on the pitch who are we to say what they should do off it?!

  • Comment number 70.

    Ben, another good blog. The earthquakes in Christchurch impacted on everyone in NZ, all Kiwi's will know someone who has been affected. Despite it's size NZ is just like a large village. We had planned, and booked, a road trip from Auckland to Christchurch, for the two quarterfinals, and even though the games have been moved back to Auckland we are still taking the trip. We were keen to still support the hotels and restuarants that we will visit on the way. We fly back to Auckland on the Friday.
    Soon our thoughts will be turning towards the England Scotland clash. Read about the Calcutta Duck at http://wp.me/p1JQbK-2P
    Ben, we want you to present the trophy if you around after the game!

  • Comment number 71.

    Liverpaul85 you really are missing my point. I fully understand and accept all the good things they do. But without knowing what I think of them you cant really say it is wrong.

    By being footballers they are famous, and role models. Its not a matter of if their private lives should be broadcast or not, because they are, and kids look up to them. If it wasnt broadcast it would not matter so much, I do not judge them as induviduals, but if my life was spread across the papers I would make sure I was squeeky clean!
    I wonder how many stars of football are quite as down to earth as DC and other players mentioned here?

    But it is not just the off field antics that I think lead to them being poor role models but also the on field antics of footballers. There is massive lack of respect for the ref, which is not a good thing for our young people to see in their role models. How does that then encopurage them to behave in wider society?

    All those people you mentioned should live around what WE (society) say is right, just as you and I should do. As we live in a democracy. And they are just as much part of that WE as we are.

    This is starting to go off topic.....but oh well........

  • Comment number 72.

    your correct, this is going off topic comlpletely. I will not comment on that post for that reason! I will say however that i do disagree with you on most of the points you made!

    So, How do we think DC with cope with the pressure this time around? Has failed in the past at the worst possible times. Can he handle the nations/worlds expectancy?

  • Comment number 73.

    So you disagree with my points that:

    - sports stars are role models, and so therfore should set a good example

    - sport would benifit from more positive role models liek DC and JW

    - everybody should live within the rules set out by democracy

    You disagree with that?

    Like it has been said by someone else, DC has only lost one WC match to the French. All the weight shouldnt be put on his shoulders, the rest of the team has to perform too. I think NZ will win, but it will be close. France will be looking to defend well and counter attack as quick as they can. If France are to win they have to take ALL their chances!

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 73

    i said i disagree with most of your points, not all. Again, its going off the subject.

    Also, not saying that its right that the weight of the nation is placed on his shoulders, but as in england with JW this seems to happen far too much. Can he handle the pressure?

    Agree that france will need to take all their chances, will hopefully be a blinding game. Just hope the right france turn up. They have been far too inconsistent for far too long. I also think NZ will win, just hope that france give them the best possible game.

  • Comment number 75.

    Those were my 3 points I was making. So which 2 do you disagree with (as 2 would be most but not all)?

    The No 10 is seen as the play maker and point scorer so the weight will usually go there, dispite there being 14 other players who can influence the game.

    Interestingly it was said on TV today that france see 9 as just a much decision making role as 10. So therefore they have put Parra and Yachvili on, two of their best players. Will be interesting!

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 75

    I disagree that during your posts you have only made 3 points. but on the 3 you have stated i will comment.

    1) I disagree that sports stars should have to be role models. and the end of the day they are people just like us. Can you honestly say you have never made a mistake, never lost your cool in front of people, never been disrespectful? So why are they any different?

    2) Agree that sports could benefit from having more people like JW and DC, but i feel we focus far too much on the negatives on people and never enough of the positives.

    3) I disagree that people should HAVE to live how others tell them. Of course we need LAWS to give us boundaries, but we are individuals and each individual has a right to decide how they will live their life. Whether it be a footballer who decides to cheat on his wife, a rugby player who goes drinking till 3am in the morning or joe bloggs who decides that he wants to do something taboo with his life, that is their perogative and they should not be dictated to by anyone. not even us fans.

  • Comment number 77.

    Ok.........

    1) Regardless of if stars should or should not be role models, the are role models. FACT. And I am not saying they cannot make mistake, they are just humans. I have made alot of mistakes, but I am not a role model so my behaviour isnt seen by as many people. That is why they are different. I am not asking for them to be perfect, just a bit more aware of how they are seen by people, and act more accordingly.

    2) This was my main point. We need more focus of things like this blog. These stories should be bigger.....or amybe they shouldnt, maybe its nice that they are done for the sake of being done rather than to look good. But we agree on this I am sure. And on topic!

    3) Am I being so unclear on this point. I am saying people make up society. Society makes laws. The people HAVE to live by these laws. Therefore people have to live their lives the way "the people" have said. This is simply obeying the law. Nothing more. I am not talking about drinking at 3 am or other taboo things. That is peoples parogatives.
    I wasnt talking about fans. I was talking about society.

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 75

    Regarding the game, i would agree that 9 is as important in the open play decision making. I'm not sure that playing parra at 10 is the best idea against the ABs but it may be a stroke of genius. We will find out!

    I also think that the weight of expectation of the 10 is lessened if you have a fantastic pack that can dominate games from there. obviously with DCs running game and the ability of the backs to run the ball makes the ABs more reliant on carter but we all know that if your forwards don't get the ball, you can't score points. I would say McCaw is as important due to his ball retention

  • Comment number 79.

    @ 77

    1) I think if you look at sports stars in general they are role models. there will always be a minority of celebrities who are not good role models but imo, as long as they are not breaking the law, then they can live how they like. Do you really think it would be better if all sports persons just got on with the game and never argued a decision, nevermade a mistake? It would be boring and kids would have no one to judge themselves against. I also do not think that any person should have to live their lives in a certain way just because we say so, as long as they do not cross the boundaries of the law.

    2) I think it would be nice to have a few more blogs like this about different sports, about the really genuine men and women who actually do care about the communities they live in and where they came from. But like you say, not just to look good, but because it is relevant!

    3) I feel you were being unclear, yes! I wasn't saying that it would be ok for any sports star to go out and kill someone. I was simply saying that all persons in this world should be allowed to live their lives how they please. (Again, as long as it is in the confines of the law).

    surely we fans are part of the society? or have i missed the point again?

  • Comment number 80.

    Yes fans are part of society. But not all society are fans. So by saying soceity I include fans.

    I dont think we need sports stars to not make mistakes (thats a silly request) or not questions decisions, it just needs to be done with respect!

    This is my point:

    People make up society. Society makes laws. Laws show people how to live their lives.
    Therefore people tell people how to live their lives.

    It's not inclusive of all behaviour, but people cant just do what they want.

  • Comment number 81.

    nosleeptillbrooklyn - Haha! Better Pace than Hale...

    Jake Hadlee - Sorry to say I completely disagree. As someone without "considerable natural talent" who trained a hell of a lot when I was a kid, I can safely say I never would have made it as a professional, however hard I practised. You've gotta have the gifts in the first place, kid...

    As for the Carter-Wilko argument, I don't think you can say on current form that Wilkinson is in Carter's class. But maybe back in the day, with the right team around him, Wilko was on a par. What I'd say is that Carter would look great in pretty much any side, I'm not sure you could same the same about Wilko.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 81: Totally agree Ben that you gotta have the talent. Other wise I think there would be alot more super stars out there, and anything that went wrong you could blame on the coaching.
    How did Jason Robinson learn to run the way he did? He didn't he just did it. The same with a lot of players they just do stuff without really thinking about it.

    Maybe what made Wilko so great was the team around him. It was perfect for him (2003 Vintage obviously, not current squad). Would Carter really shine in a team with poor backs, say the Gerogian team (I pick them because their running seemed very laboured)?

  • Comment number 83.

    I think the Jonny Wilkinson OF OLD was a better player than Dan Carter

    Great player that JW was and is... they are different players, but Carter in my opinion just offers more. Both these guys cannot do what they do without the effort put in by the guys in front of them.

  • Comment number 84.

    82 and 81.

    Spot on guys. Cory Jane is in my opinion very Jason Robinson like... there is no way that that type of player is not naturally gifted. Its this natural raw talent coupled together with the right worth ethic and attidue that make great players.

  • Comment number 85.

    Natural talent without the right work ethic is a killer. The Coach in Bens last blog talked of kids losing the drive and not becoming great. It's not even enough to just have raw talent. People around you helping you along the way does more than a lot of people realise!

  • Comment number 86.

    i think it is so disappointing when you see these youngsters (and professionals to certain degrees) with such a raw talent for the game, such a good "rugby head" and they waste it through sheer lack of determination. if i had a real raw talent for a sport, i would do whatever it took to push myself to the limit of my talent.

    You wouldn't catch me out at all hours drinking and messing around. I would prbably be spending that time practising!

  • Comment number 87.

    @ 86 - I thought you said it was ok to be out drinking to all hours?

    The problem is people get complaicant. They get to the top of the game (at a certain level) have people "worshipping" them. They are top dog. Girls love 'em. Team mates want to be 'em. Its a comfortable place to be. But to take the next step to the next level where you are no longer top dog, you gotta put in the hard work all over again.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ 86

    I haven't said its ok or not ok to be out drinking at all hours. I said that just because they are professionals and their lives are printed in the paper that they should be vilified for it! At the end of the day they are human beings who should be allowed to do what they want with who they want, when they want as long as it is within the laws of the country they are in.

    No sprots man gets to the top without hard work, but the very best will always have a natural talent for the game/sport they are involved in

  • Comment number 89.

    Dan Carter, he will go down as one of the greats my only question is how good would he be without such a great pack in front of him, and how often does he play under real pressure form the opposition-his main pressure probably comes from the standards set by the AB's. Was lucky enough to meet him whilst the opportunity arose whilst the AB's were training at The University of Glamorgan sports fields, what a really nice down to earth unfazed gent. Probably the calmest person on a rugby field since Barry John.

    "Players" such as Henson and Cipriani should watch him, the way he conducts himself etc but if there's nothing in the top two inches to begin with then there's not a lot you can do about it

  • Comment number 90.

    Henson and Cipriani are not even at the races when it comes to professionals like Carter.
    Cipriani was more or less a joke in the Super15 this year... he had the odd flash but nothing that you could say this guys is speical. Given how much chat there was from some English fans and media I was expecting to see great things. He would be lucky to get a contract in NZ.

  • Comment number 91.

    90 Porridge Times

    Porridge, I don't know where you read this stuff or hear "this chat"...or does it emerge fully formed from the recesses of your brain?

    Danny Cipriani was briefly touted as a rugby genius some years ago. He put in one simply brilliant performance to beat Ireland then never lived up to the initial promise. That in itself is no crime. Unfortunately though he has some other characteristics that make him pretty unpromising as a potential star player, as a team member or even as a human being!

    It was summed up beautifully in a training session at Wasps when the outgoing rugby genius Josh Lewsey (so good that the the AB's had to stamp on his head...a sort of compliment in those parts), went up to him and punched him during training such was his frustration with the prima-donna. He was pretty much a busted flush in England by the time he tried his hand at Super 15.

    You would be hard pressed these days to find a serious England fan who doesn't think that the guy is a complete k**b and hardly in the same league as Jonny Wilkinson as a professional and a player, let alone Dan Carter. It was hoped that he would mature and come back from Australia a better person. This looks unlikely now!

    But hey! YOUNG SPORTSMAN FAILS TO LIVE UP TO EARLY PROMISE! Not exactly a unique headline is it? As ever, the off-pitch stuff tends to get the upper hand when dreams don't materialise. A bit like Doug Howlett getting arrested for jumping up and down drunkenly on that car at Heathrow the last time NZ got knocked out of the RWC.

  • Comment number 92.

    86 Liverpaul85

    "You wouldn't catch me out at all hours drinking and messing around. I would prbably be spending that time practising!"

    In some ways you can't win. When Jonny Wilkinson first emerged into the public eye, people marveled at his professionalism and dedication. The guy simply practiced all day, every day. I even went to a function on a rain-swept January Sunday at Newcastle Falcons a few years ago. The ground was deserted but for a solitary figure practicing touch-kicks. Guess who?

    Later on, during the usual "knock 'em down" phase, all this perfectionist dedication was suddenly portrayed as a "sign of inner demons", of "obsessive behaviour", of "an inability to relax" and QED the cause of an apparent lack of expression on the pitch.

    When it comes to press censure, there is only ever one winner!

  • Comment number 93.

    Anglo
    I said given - SOME - of the chat was ramping this guy up he was something of a disappointment in last years Super15. That is not a slight on England at all and I can now see as to why Martin Johnson dumped him.

  • Comment number 94.

    Gyro-11

    I would readily salute Chris Paterson as a great rugby player and a successful place kicker. The only observation that I would make is that, when it comes to place-kicking, he resembles Geoff Boycott more than Dan Carter. He does seem to play for his average rather than the team, slotting the straightforward kicks while leaving the more speculative stuff to others.

    That doesn't detract from his overall record though.

  • Comment number 95.

    It amuses me that people knock Martin Johnson for having no experience as a coach, but he was the one who first spotted the issues with Cipriani as a squad member. Now the world and his wife have realised that, temprament wise, there's something not quite together that will allow the man to be the player he should be, or part of a squad unit at the highest echelon.

    Similar analysis could be applied to Gavin Henson, although he has showed more than one flash of ability to perform at the top of his game.

    Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson and John Eales to name but three show a balance of character, an inner calm and control, that allows them to express themselves on the field. Carter will go down as one of the greats of the game, and he has yet to even approach the end of his career.
    When you read this blog you realise its been the coming together of all the right fragments of what makes a great. Natural talent, supportive family, great temperament, good people around him and a fantastic work ethic. Dan Carter will get all he deserves from the game, and I expect Southbridge will have two winners medals to show before the year is out.

  • Comment number 96.

    I think the most telling thing may be that neither DC nor JW would get involved in this sort of argument as they are too modest about their extraodinary talents.

    Sadly there has not been that many games where their style of play has been opposed directly as JW has had horrendous luck with injury. Lions Tour, possibly, and DC shined there. Also DC really hasn't had a crack at the business end of a World Cup Tournament as he was injured in the Quarter Final against France and Carlos Spencer had his role in the pivotal games in 2003. But I'm a Kiwi and I would say that wouldn't I.

    JW did something that DC hasn't done yet. Hopefully DC will have the opportunity to do so later next month.

  • Comment number 97.

    As previously stated by others it is almost impossible in rugby to decide who is better in a certain position if they play for different teams.

    Different eras also through up problems ie Tiger woods or Jack Nicklaus, I know who my money would be on.

    Lets look at it differently, If i was the coach of the england team available in 2003 and 2007 and i had JW or DC at my disposal i think I would have picked JW because of the style of the game the "team" played and the confidence he gave the team.

    If I was picking the ABs side it would undoubtedly be DC. Not really saying one is better than the other as they both fill the role to its utmost.

    I think the best compliment to both is that they appear to both be good human beings which is surprisingly rare these days.

    Would love to know what some of the centres who played outside them both think?

  • Comment number 98.

    @ #41. Gyro-11: "Chris Paterson is way better"

    The conversation was about fly halves - you remember: that position Chris Paterson tried to be but failed on account of the fact he has nothing but goal kicking?

    And if JW's "One great game", as you put it, refers to the 03' world cup final, then I think you need to watch some archive footage of the best team in the world between 2001 and spring 2003. The WC itself - including the final - was generally cagey 10 man stuff from England, and it could only be considered JW's 'great game' based on the achievement, and not the game itself.

    Incidentally, I do think Carter is the more complete 10, but don't try to distort the past with your bile

  • Comment number 99.

    @ #41. Gyro-11: "Chris Paterson is way better"

    Think Gyro was hinting at purely Patersons accuracy rather than his over all ability at ten. Paterson was unfortunate in the fact that he was a utility player and never really got the chance to nail the ten spot at either club or country.
    There is more to Paterson than just his goal kicking he is a talented and underrated player in my opinon. Remember this is his fourth world cup which says a lot for him.

  • Comment number 100.

    Dan is very good at his choosen profession. Very nice to hear he is also a down to earth person too.

 

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