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July 11, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Carter’s Out of Bounds Boys

“Are we not allowed to tackle Carter?” The eloquent words of Hurricane’s captain Andrew Hore to referee Chris Pollock after a no-arm hit on Daniel Carter.

The answer is NO! Not when he is our best chance of winning the World Cup after 24 long, miserable years, and it’s only three months out from said competition. There really should be an unwritten rule within New Zealand rugby at present that stipulates that Dan Carter is off-limits when it comes to marginal tackles. Make that any tackles. So hands off, Ma’a.

It is of the upmost importance that Dan Carter is fit come the World Cup in a few months’ time. Remember four years ago when he went off after 60 minutes against France and the All Blacks crumbled under their own ineptitude? Well I do. Those are images that are burnt across my brain. Failure to attempt a drop kick until McAlister thought he’d have a pointless punt from 48 metres. Well not this year.

This year Dan Carter must be on the field in those pivotal moments, rather than iced up, watching helplessly from the bench. He is one of the two best players in the world right now (Richie McCaw is the other) and his match-winning ability is unrivalled. Whether it is with ball in hand and breaking tackles, or coolly floating another penalty kick over, he has the potential to win a test match from anywhere.

His importance is only magnified when you consider that New Zealand does not really have a suitable replacement for him if he were to get injured. Aaron Cruden has slowly improved over the latter half of the rugby season but still has to prove himself at international level; Colin Slade, who looked like he would have the goods, has been out injured for over half the season and so has missed the opportunity to prove himself; Luke McAlister has proved his inability to move seamlessly between 12 and 10, as well as having goal kicking duties taken off him; and Stephen Donald… need I explain?

Whoever is selected as our backup first-five will have an opportunity in the upcoming tri-nations, but without an outright contender for the position of Dan Carter’s understudy, we really cannot afford to lose him. Dan Carter is by no means soft, but he must be protected all the same. There’s enough danger for him every time he steps out against one of those unforgiving South African forwards, who see him as only a red-and-white target; we don’t have to do their job for them.

So whether or not the NZRU has ‘Don’t tackle Carter’ clauses put into New Zealand rugby contracts or they slipped Chris Pollock a cheeky hundred before the game, who cares? We need Dan Carter and we have to keep him healthy by any means necessary—even if that means penalising Ma’a Nonu and annoying Andrew Hore. After all, who wants to see Dan cry again as another World Cup dream slips through our fingers? Not me, for one. *

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