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Carter the greatest - McGeechan

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    23 Apr 2018     Getty Images

Racing were second in 2016 and will face Leinster in three weeks in Bilbao in the final.

While Carter's contributions are from coming off the bench, he is still a force for the side.

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As he prepares for the last act of his French career, Carter can take some words of praise from former Scotland and British & Irish Lions player and coach Sir Ian McGeechan with him.

In his Sunday Telegraph column, McGeechan said Carter was the perfect first five-eighths and the best he had ever seen in that position.

"As a coach in international rugby, one of the privileges is seeing great players emerge. Players whose presence and performances change the way the game is played. Without doubt, Dan Carter is one of those," he said.

Like many, McGeechan rated his performance in the second Test against the Lions in Wellington as unforgettable.

"He was supreme; the most complete No.10 the game had ever seen. And that was saying something. It was only two years earlier that Jonny Wilkinson had himself shown what an outstanding outside-half was capable of when he drop-kicked England to victory at the World Cup.

"I had only seen video clips of Carter before that tour. Although he was first capped before the 2003 World Cup, he had been playing second fiddle to Carlos Spencer and started in the centres for the first 18 months of his international career.

"This was a great grounding, not so unusual in New Zealand where they have always named 10 and 12 as first and second five-eighths, with a shared responsibility for midfield play. It is no surprise that 13 years later, everyone is now using second kickers/decision-makers at 12. But that Lions series was the series when Carter came of age as an All Black.

"He remains, to my mind, the most complete No.10, and will be seen as one of rugby's greatest players," he said.



Carter would rank with McGeechan's other benchmark player, halfback Gareth Edwards.

He said the hallmark of a great player was the impact he had on those around him and Carter had that undoubted quality.

"To average 14 points a Test (he scored 1598 points in 112 games) is remarkable, however good your teammates are. And let us not kid ourselves, the All Blacks were, and remain, the greatest team in the world. Carter made them better.

"Along with Richie McCaw, he was the catalyst of that team. It was the same for the Crusaders. He lifted them to new heights.

"He was the first 10 I ever saw who deployed the 'kick to compete' from inside his own 22, getting enough loft on it that four All Blacks would be underneath it. He could pass, run it himself. He controlled games so well," he said.

Beauden Barrett was not yet in Carter's class for his ability to control games, McGeechan said. Barrett was 'incredible' in an attacking sense but he felt Jonny Sexton and Owen Farrell outplayed him tactically as a combination last year and McGeechan rated Farrell ahead of him, at the moment.

"Carter, though, invariably got it right. Even in the World Cup final in 2015, when he was near the end and hobbling around on one leg, he was instrumental in New Zealand winning.

"In the first half, he kept Australia pinned back on their 22. And in the second, after Australia had closed to 21-17, he swung the game in New Zealand's favour.

"He landed a dropped goal he had no right to, to make it a seven-point game again. Then, from the kick-off, he produced a lovely chip from which he tackled Kurtley Beale, inducing a knock-on, a New Zealand scrum and then a penalty, which he converted from 51metres: 27-17.

"In the space of three minutes, Carter had changed the momentum of the game almost single-handedly. Even then he made a fantastic tackle on the wing.

"Having missed the 2011 Rugby World Cup final because of injury, Carter needed that win in his final Test. Like all great sportsmen, he delivered," McGeechan said.