• Carter relishing Bok challenge

    All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter can’t wait for another crack at the Springboks and at Handré Pollard in particular, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.

    Carter knows all about the physicality of the Boks. In the Rugby Championship Test staged at Eden Park two years ago, Bismarck du Plessis flattened the All Blacks flyhalf with a brutal – yet legal – tackle. That forced Carter from the field with a shoulder injury.

    Carter will start against the Boks in the World Cup semi-final at Twickenham on Saturday. The game will mark a comeback of sorts, as Carter hasn't played against the Boks since that match at Eden Park. It may also represent the 33-year-old’s final chance to face the Boks.

    ‘The battles against South Africa have definitely been right up there over the course of my career,’ he said. ‘They’re always very physical, and we expect more of the same this weekend.’

    Pollard, of course, will ask questions of the All Blacks defence. Earlier this week, the 21-year-old said he was looking forward to facing off against one of the greatest flyhalves, and indeed one of the greatest centre combinations – in Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith – the game has ever seen.

    Pollard and Carter have only met once before, and that was at Super Rugby level earlier this year. On that occasion, Pollard got the better of the veteran, and steered the Bulls to a 31-19 win over the Crusaders.

    Carter admitted that the youngster has brought something different to the South African dynamic since making his Test debut in 2014.

    ‘Pollard is a fantastic player,’ the All Blacks flyhalf said. ‘He’s shown what he can do at this level in a short space of time.

    ‘He’s extremely talented, and what I really like about him is that he takes the ball to the line. He has a great running game and also has a good head on his shoulders. He reads the game well.’

    Carter believes the Boks have a good blend of youth and experience, and have grown as a combination since that early setback against Japan.

    ‘There are a few players there who won the U20 World Championship, and there are also a lot of guys with experience. The way they’ve bounced back since the loss to Japan, they’re very dangerous. Sometimes you learn more from your losses than your victories.’

    Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

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    Jon Cardinelli