Sports

Carter's last chance at glory

Final chance for Kiwi fly half Carter to end his career in style

Nobody in the New Zealand camp will admit it, least of all the man himself but, if the All Blacks do triumph in tonight's World Cup final, then the victory will be just that little bit more special for Dan Carter.

The match will be Carter's 112th and last Test and is the chance for him to ink in the one missing line from his otherwise glorious rugby CV.

You would need a heart of flint, or be Australian, to want to see him denied it.

The fly half is far and away the sport's leading point-scorer with 1,579.

He has twice been voted World Player of the Year, he has a remarkable 89 per cent Test match winning percentage and his 33-point individual haul when New Zealand destroyed the British and Irish Lions 48-18 in 2005 is ranked by many as the finest performance by a fly half in history.

He is appearing in his fourth World Cup, alongside teammates Richie McCaw and Keven Mealamu but, while the three of them all own a winner's medal from 2011, Carter's is unlikely to take pride of place on his mantelpiece.

The fly half was looking in fine form in the first two group games on home soil, before a groin injury ended his tournament and he watched the final from the stands.

It completed a hat-trick of World Cup miseries after he also went off injured during the 2007 quarter-final defeat by France and was an unused replacement when New Zealand lost to Australia in the 2003 semis.

Since that 2011 heartbreak, Carter has suffered more injuries but has fought his way back to form and fitness and, while he may lack the explosive speed of his younger self, the 33-year-old version remains the serene controller.

"Carter's genius as a player is his completeness," former England coach Clive Woodward said yesterday.

"There is no obvious weakness, nothing lacking in his skill set, no fault line to prey on and exploit.

"He can run, tackle, kick and pass with the best.

"He has time on the ball, is never rushed and does everything smoothly. He purrs along without apparent over-exertion."

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has seen close up how hard Carter has had to work and said this week that his physical setbacks had knocked him back mentally too.

"He had an horrific run of injuries over a couple of seasons that took away his confidence," Hansen said.

"Before that, everything he touched turned to gold.

CONFIDENCE

"It's the mark of the guy how he's come through that.

"A lot of people might have said, 'Enough's enough, I'll chuck it in', but he stuck with it and he's got that inner confidence back.

"When you start to play well, it's like a snowball, and it gets bigger and bigger and, all of a sudden, it becomes an avalanche. When he's like that, he's a special player."

Hansen and his players have persistently played down the fact that several veterans will be retiring after tonight's game and he suggested on Thursday that Carter had played a "big part" in the 2011 success.

"Will he feel better if he gets to play in the final? Of course he will," Hansen added.

"If we're good enough to win it, he'll feel better about that too."


- Reuters.

World Cup win will make Aussie skipper Moore the ultimate role model

Stephen Moore once thought about playing for Ireland but will earn his 102nd cap leading Australia against New Zealand in the World Cup final tonight.

The 32-year-old shaven-headed Moore is one of the key members of the "jokers, lovers and fighters" that coach Michael Cheika has pushed to the Twickenham final.

Moore was born in Saudi Arabia and lived in Ireland for a while, before his parents moved to Australia when he was a small boy.

"Like it or not, we are role models... I am a bit of a traditionalist in that way." — Australia captain Stephen Moore (above) -- PHOTO: REUTERS

"Before I played for Australia, I definitely had those thoughts when I was in my late teens, early 20s, of what would it be like to go back to Ireland and play there," he told The Irish Independent in 2013.

"Obviously, I have very strong family ties there and had been there as a child. I'm very proud of my history and my ancestry there but, once I played for Australia, that was my choice made and I was very lucky to get that opportunity."

Moore made his debut in 2005 and has been a squad regular as hooker ever since.

"I've been very lucky to have the opportunity to play for Australia a lot and every moment of it's been fabulous. I haven't regretted it at all.

"There are plenty of other guys in that boat as well, particularly some of the Polynesian guys who have played for Australia.

CONNECTION

"They probably go through a similar type of emotion where you can see that they have a very strong connection to where they're from. I was very similar to that and I still am."

Moore resembles another top-class hooker from Ireland, Keith Wood, otherwise known as the "Raging Potato".

Despite his performances, Moore has not garnered the headlines like Matt Giteau, David Pocock or Adam Ashley-Cooper.

He is a disciplinarian who prefers staying out of the limelight, particularly at the team's press conferences.

However, his leadership qualities are clear.

He has brought rigour to the Australian side and took a stand by backing Brumbies teammate Pocock when he complained about homophobic comments made during a Super Rugby match against the Waratahs this year.

"Like it or not, we are role models," he said.

"Some don't think that strongly, but I believe we are. I saw the Wallabies as role models when I was a kid for many different reasons.

"I am a bit of a traditionalist in that way."

Moore, whose nickname "Squeak" is down to giving a speech in Japanese class at school when his voice was breaking, did not suffer for taking his stance. Waratahs coach of the time Cheika named him the World Cup skipper in July.

"He told me the same time as everyone else," Moore said of the moment he was named captain for the third time.

"It was a bit of a shock," he added. "It was an emotional moment. It was very strange to get the opportunity again.

"It means a lot to me and I want to make sure I do as best I can in whatever time I have got left."

For Moore, this has been his golden period since Cheika took over last October, not just because of the way the campaign has gone but also the atmosphere the coach has engendered.

He said in a recent interview that team unity has been lacking in some recent squads.

"However, for a year, the big focus has been on unity and it has been a big benefit for us," said Moore.

"He (Cheika) has succeeded in bringing players closer together from different teams across Australia and creating special bonds.

"We have become a very tight-knit group."

- AFP.

All BlacksDan Carter