All Blacks legends Dan Carter and Richie McCaw are in the twilight of their careers, but will they make it to the Rugby World Cup 2015 and still warrant selection in the All Blacks?
Both McCaw and Carter have been injured, rested and on sabbaticals so much recently that while in the past it was inconceivable that the All Blacks would be world beaters without these two, there are now players waiting in the wings.
McCaw is nearly 33 and has been in the All Blacks since 2001, scoring 21 tries and played 122 tests and 86 as captain for the All Blacks, while Carter is set to play his 100th test match this weekend against England, scoring 1433 points including 29 test tries. These two players are part of the current vastly experienced All Blacks team, but given the competition in the All Blacks squad and the fact that the modern game is very fast paced, can these two legends make it to the Rugby World Cup 2015?
The critics have been out recently on both Carter and McCaw. McCaw still warrants selection for his leadership and impact as an openside flanker, but he has had to adapt his game and can at times be found out by smaller and faster players. Carter sometimes takes a while to get into form, but his cause isn’t helped by the quality of back up players in Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett who have been impressive in 2013. His place is more in jeopardy than McCaw’s in my view.
In my opinion, both Carter and McCaw warrant starting spots in the All Blacks at this stage, but bringing on Aaron Cruden or Beauden Barrett in the final quarter to make an impact with their extra pace is probably a good idea. Going forward it could be useful having a blindside flanker who can cover lock, so Steven Luatua is a great option as it allows Sam Cane to be introduced off the bench.
While it is great to have experience in the All Blacks leading into Rugby World Cup 2015, there is a feeling that having too many older players could detrimental to the All Blacks chances. Mils Muliaina was like this at the Rugby World Cup 2011 where he was superseded by Israel Dagg and crawled over the 100 test caps as he was gifted some caps later in the tournament. I don’t want this to happen to these two legends.
I think with the right management both Carter and McCaw could make it to Rugby World Cup 2015, but I don’t want them to hang around past their used by date for the sake of winning a Rugby World Cup medal and I would like to think that coach Steve Hansen wouldn’t be too afraid to drop either of these players if their performances no longer warrant selection. Carter and McCaw are greats, but they are not bigger than the game!