Dan Carter reveals who he rates as the world’s best ahead of Rugby World Cup

David Skippers
Former All Blacks star Dan Carter looks on.

Former All Blacks playmaker Dan Carter.

Ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France, legendary New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter has given his opinion on who he rates as the best player in the world.

With just two days to go before the global showpiece kicks off with France hosting the All Blacks at the Stade de France in Paris, it’s not surprising that one of the players who will be in action in that match gets Carter’s vote for that accolade and the 41-year-old sang the praises of Les Bleus scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont.

‘Strongest and most consistent’

“Over the last three or four years, he has been the strongest and most consistent,” he told French newspaper Le Figaro. “I was a little nervous for him when he became captain, but he showed, in his character and personality, that it didn’t change anything in the end. He’s still the same player.

“His calmness, ability to read the game and change the course of a game, and technical qualities remain impressive.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what level he reaches at the World Cup.”

Carter said he is looking forward to seeing how New Zealand respond to them not being favourites ahead of the World Cup.

This year’s global showpiece in France is a rare occasion where the All Blacks are not pre-tournament favourites and Carter is eager to see how they react to their third place finish at the 2019 tournament in Japan.

“In 2019, when they were eliminated, they saw what it cost to lose, the pain it brings,” he said. “They have learned from this. This year, we have experienced players who were able to learn from the defeat in 2019. They will be able to use it as a strength, as motivation to perform much more than they were able to four years ago.”

Despite the pressure which comes with playing on home soil, Carter said there was also an advantage to it as the All Blacks found in 2011 and Les Bleus would experience that this year.

The players’ families are nearby. They know the environment, and everything will be more straightforward for having that knowledge and realising they have played so well since the 2019 World Cup.

“I believe the All Blacks can raise their level,” added Carter. “I hope France and the All Blacks meet in the final. This is my dream final, against France, with a victory for the All Blacks, it would be perfect.”

Carter also drew a comparison to the current France team and the one from his area, who he said were completely unpredictable while their team for this year’s World Cup were more consistent.

“We could beat them by 40 points and, the next week, lose to them,” he said. “They were emotionally strong and could beat anyone on a good day.

“I remember the World Cup quarter-final in 2007. They were there, with emotion, with the determination to beat the best team in the world. And that’s what they did. They deserved their 20-18 victory over the All Blacks.”

Carter also spoke about a lesson he learned about French rugby during his playing stints there – with Perpignan in 2008 and 2009 and with Racing 92 from 2015 to 2018 – was how emotion came through in the game.

“If you win a game at the weekend, then you have a great training week,” he explained. “But if you lose, everyone is so disappointed, it shows on their faces. So, everything can change in training from one week to the next.”

He revealed that the manner in which players or coaches appealed through emotion before matches were also memorable.

“For example, the coaches will talk a lot and motivate the group until Thursday,” said Carter. “After that, they hardly say anything. It’s up to the players to raise their voices on Friday and Saturday.

“The staffs are calmer, as if they had done their preparation job and there was no need to stay in motivation mode.”

Enjoying the current game

Carter said there was some memorable rugby being played at the moment.

“The players are more and more massive, solid and fast. And this is in almost all positions,” he said. “The tackle and breakdown impacts are much more impressive. It’s all based on wanting to be competitive, wanting to win, over and over again.

“That’s also why rugby remains the most beautiful sport in my eyes.”

READ MORE: Dan Carter reveals his top fly-halves including the player who will be a ‘huge loss’ for the Springboks