Carter's All Black days are numbered, warns Carlos Spencer
Former All Black fly-half Carlos Spencer believes Dan Carter’s days as New Zealand’s first choice No10 are coming to an end.
Carter, who is on a self-imposed sabbatical until next June, has been an immense presence for the world champions since he made his first international appearance in 2003.
He has gone on to achieve a century of caps, accumulating a world record 1,440 points in the process and was a part of the squad that won the World Cup in 2011.
But Spencer feels the 31-yearold’s career is on the wane and, with two years to go before the defence of their World Cup crown, it would be prudent for coach Steve Hansen to commit to his current understudies – Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.
Spencer, whose international career briefly overlapped Carter’s, said: “I’ve got a lot of respect for Dan – he’s done tremendous in that jersey – but I just think you’ve got guys coming through that may be a little bit better than him at the moment and are in better form.
“Aaron Cruden is one of course, but for me it’s all about Beauden Barrett. What he’s done has been tremendous. He’s decisively quick, breaks tackles and I just think he’s going to be the next No10.
“I take nothing away from Cruden, he’s a good player but for me Barrett, in terms of going forward, is the next No10.”
Carter confirmed he would take a six-month break starting after the Autumn Internationals but suffered an achilles injury in their opening defeat of England, which may yet need surgery.
Carter claims he needed the sabbatical to clear up his niggly injury problems.
However, Spencer, who won 35 caps for his country, claims the break won’t do him or the All Blacks any good and, when the World Cup arrives, Hansen must choose between Carter’s experience and the mercurial talents of Barrett or Cruden.
At 24, Cruden looks the more likely in the short-term having replaced Carter during his injury-plagued 2013.
Barrett, 22, has just 16 caps to his name but has impressed in his short international career and is very much the modern No10.
Possessing not only a sound kicking game and decision making but an ability to create something out of nothing with the ball in hand.
Spencer added: “I think Dan is taking a big risk by missing all this time. The form that Barrett is in at the moment, if he gets in, it’s going to be hard to get rid of him. And even if he did play, he’s still got competition for that jersey. It’s whether they pick on reputation or form.”
New Zealand have just completed one of their most successful years ever, as they went undefeated in 14 games, but Spencer laughs off suggestions that they might have peaked too early.
“That’s always the case, that’s the All Blacks,” he said.
“For the All Blacks, their goal is not the World Cup – their goal is every year, they want to win every competition.
“A lot of people are saying they’re peaking too early but that’s just the way they are, they’re consistent.”