Real value of the Carter-Barrett axis
OPINION: Ryan Grant, a @rugby365com contributor and one-time Blues academy recruit, takes a look at two of the most astute acquisitions and how they will impact on Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Blues fans are rightfully ecstatic about signing arguably the best No.10 the World has ever seen.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald clearly understands the value of signing Dan Carter for the tough 10-week assignment ahead – when they will face some of the game’s toughest opposition in the Crusaders, Chiefs, Hurricanes and Highlanders.
This tournament is going to be a blockbuster!
Super Rugby Aotearoa – an amplified version of the NPC – is something many people have wanted to watch for a long time.
Dan Carter signing for the Blues just puts the cherry on the top.
The question is: ‘Will he get plenty of game time or he just acts as a mentor for the Blues team and mainly the dangerous Beauden Barrett?’
Well, I will tell you that these two men will play alongside each other at some stage this season.
That will light the fuse in the Blues’ proverbial powder keg.
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The Blues fans and staff members can hardly contain themselves now that they have such talent and depth within their squad.
Having spent some time in Auckland in 2015 – playing some club rugby – I have intimate knowledge of their inner workings.
Having watched the Blues play every weekend was always special.
The results may not have favoured the Blues at the time, but it was a privilege to experience all this incredible rugby.
I was blessed to see some of the best players to set foot on the field.
Watching and learning about the game in New Zealand was fascinating, while the skill level and coaching was a cut above the rest of the world.
It was amazing to experience and learn.
No doubt Blues fans will be hoping to finally see their team get their act together and once again challenge for the trophy – perhaps winning silverware as they did in 1996, 1997 and 2003.
The Blues have some serious firepower – some of the best players in New Zealand – and now include of Dan Carter and Beauden Barrett.
We should temper our enthusiasm, though. Dan Carter is 38 and is just coming back from major neck surgery last year.
His greatest value will be the calm and leadership that he will bring to that field. It will ensure the Blues are electric and dangerous.
The question is: ‘Will Carter will play No.10 or No.12?’
* Let me know your view in the comments below.
I think the Blues are spoilt for choice and can play around, as they have such versatile backline players – including one of the best utility players in Beauden Barrett – who starts at fullback against the Hurricanes in Auckland on Sunday.
After his stint in France, Carter spent the last two years in Japan – where he imparted his knowledge and expertise onto the Japanese players.
Carter has traversed from league to league and can adapt his game to any style – from a ponderous, calculated game to an exhilarating display.
He has shown time-and-again why he is rated one of the all-time greats.
Despite his advanced years, Carter is not ready to hang up his boots just yet. And he is not chasing money either – as he settled for a salary of about NZ$1800 a week.
MacDonald made it clear Carter is not doing this for the money, but is ultimately ‘giving back’ to the game and his country.
I believe Carter has timed his career moves to a T.
As MacDonald explained, Carter is already popular in the camp and the youngsters feel comfortable talking to him – which is vitally important in building team chemistry and general positivity within the squad.
Carter loves punting the fact that the team must keep chatting and reminding each other that they love the game.
He could be the ‘Tom Brady’ of the Blues.
Carter and Barrett are two of the best players we have ever seen and the scary thing is that they both still have so much to offer on and off the field.
The Blues team have several brilliant options at No.10 and they are more than happy to have Carter there to help them learn from his experience and skills.
I hope all of you are as excited as I am to see Carter and Barrett create magic out there alongside the rest of the talented Blues squad.
MacDonald did say that Carter will not be rushed back, as the veteran is getting into the swing of things.
He sees this as a marathon, not a sprint.
Catch me as I do the LIVE blogging of the Blues versus Hurricanes game on @rugby365com on Sunday!
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and chatting to you all this weekend.