Dan Carter 100th test today -Salute the man

OPINION: An expanding medical file explains Dan Carter’s deceleration in test appearances.

A raft of injuries, the most recent a damaged shoulder following Bismarck du Plessis’s tackle on September 14, robbed Carter the chance of playing his 100th test in New Zealand before the All Blacks left for their tour of Japan and Europe.

Tomorrow morning’s test at Twickenham will be just his sixth test this year. Compare that to 2008 when he amassed 15 caps.

A cracked hand bone ruled him out of the first two tests against France in June and the collision with Springboks hooker du Plessis limited his Rugby Championship outings to just two.Dig further into Carter’s history and the list of physical repairs, serious and relatively minor, require the reader to take a seat while digesting the details.

It’s a lengthy read: ruptured tendons (Achilles and groin), cracked bones, calf and hamstring tears (minor or otherwise), hematomas and probably a few broken teeth flesh the document out. No doubt there are also other details that have never been made public.

Carter, during a professional career that has straddled 11 years and included two International Rugby Board player of the year awards, is already being hailed as one of the all-time greats. But to get there his body has taken a pounding.

His six-month sabbatical, which will be activated at the end of this tour, has come at the right time for a bloke contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Union until the 2015 World Cup.

Taking a holiday is a gamble; Carter has taken a calculated risk by giving Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett an uncontested shot at his No 10 jersey during next year’s June series against England.

He turns 32 on March 5, his body is creaking and if anyone believes Steve Hansen will hang on to players for sentimental reasons, they are in for a rude shock.

Hansen can be ruthless – we have already seen the end of Andy Ellis, Piri Weepu and Ali Williams – but even he would blanche at the prospect of telling the great Carter he is finished.

It would be a touchy subject around the selection table but there is no doubt the gap between Carter and his understudies Cruden and Barrett is closing.

Although Carter’s appetite for Super Rugby can at times be questioned (he acknowledges he usually takes around three games to get into the groove but at times is still too quiet for the Crusaders) his desire to represent his country is undimmed.

He deserves all the accolades that have been slathered over him this week.

While he may not have reached the standards that have earned his ranking as a five-star general, Carter is still one of the most accomplished decision makers in the world, an aggressive defender of his channel and a reliable goal kicker.

If it wasn’t to be in Christchurch, or in New Zealand, then the old cabbage patch that is now Twickenham – the so-called home of rugby – is an appropriate venue for Southbridge’s most famous product to be welcomed into the 100-test club.

stuff.co.nz

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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