Dan Carter played the Springboks 19 times. Mark Keohane picks his top five Carter displays against the men in green and gold.
- All Blacks 20-18. 2015 World Cup semi-final at Twickenham, London: Carter won New Zealand the semi-final. He was colossal in turning the tide after the Springboks dominated the first 40 minutes. The Boks led 12-7 at halftime and enjoyed a one man advantage, but Carter took charge of the match in the second half and played the wet conditions to perfection. He kicked two immaculate touchline conversions, slotted a precision drop goal and a crucial penalty to put New Zealand ahead 20-15 with a quarter to play. The Boks got within two points with a sixth penalty kicked, but Carter’s composure and decision-making proved decisive in the final five minutes and thanks to his line kicking game the All Blacks played out the match 30 metres from the Boks tryline. It was Carter at his finest, given the quality of the opposition, the match circumstance, the conditions and also the occasion.
2. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, in describing Liverpool, said he didn’t like to suffer at the hands of Liverpool but for someone who loves football so much, watching them when they are playing at their best is a thing of beauty. I always felt the same way when watching Carter at his finest against the Springboks. He made us suffer but you couldn’t but applaud his genius. One of his most imposing performances was the final time he played a Test against the Springboks in South Africa. The Test was at FNB’s Soccer City Stadium and in front of 90 000 supporters, mostly South African, Carter produced a flyhalf masterclass. The Boks led 16-12 at halftime, but with the All Blacks forwards getting into the game in the second half, Carter turned on the charm, played the match in all the right areas with his line kicking and ignited the All Blacks backs. His goalkicking was sublime and he inspired a come from behind 32-16 win, in spite of fullback Israel Dagg’s yellow card in the 60th minute.
3. Carter spoiled Percy Montgomery’s 100th Test at Newlands, Cape Town, in 2008, with a telling display as the All Blacks shut out the Springboks 19-0. The Cape wind howled and circled that day and both Montgomery and Carter, two of Test rugby’s finest left footed strikers of the ball, struggled with the wind. Carter’s all-round game, though, was strong enough to resist the wind and he beautifully controlled the second half and closed out of the Test for the All Blacks.
4. Carter kicked seven penalties in Wellington, New Zealand and two conversions for a 25 point total as the All Blacks beat the Springboks 35-17. Wellington is never the easiest place to kick but Carter’s left boot was unerring and so was his line-kicking and attacking game. The Boks were always on the back foot because of Carter’s goalkicking accuracy, but his performance was so much more than that of a points accumulator. As he so often did in his Test career, he owned the park and the areas in which his decision-making determined where the All Blacks would spend most of the evening, which invariably was not far from the Springboks tryline.
5. Carter enjoyed magical back-to-back Tests against the Springboks in 2006, scoring 25 points in Wellington and a few weeks later adding another 20 in the 45-26 thumping of the Boks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Carter sizzled on orchestrating the All Blacks attack in the second half, but he will remember the Test for kicking the longest penalty of his career, which was measured at 62 metres and on the angle could possibly have been 65 metres. The All Blacks won a penalty on their own 10 metres line and fifteen metres in from touch. Richie McCaw tells the story that he looked at Carter and his talisman nodded. The successful kick was a turning point in the match and the Springboks were never in the game in the second half.