James Mortimer 25.Jul.2013Getty Images
Carter’s profile as the consummate professional and perhaps the best flyhalf to play the game is without debate, but some injuries and a mixed showing against France have conspired to give some a rise to question the master’s ability.
The Crusaders leading number ten replaced Cruden for the third Test against France, and while it was expected he would rise to the occasion, some would rate Cruden’s showing in the previous international to be a step above.
Indeed, Cruden’s rise as an All Black and Super Rugby winner have long erased the argument that New Zealand’s Rugby core system is nullified if Carter is not available, and once again the apprentice and the master, a player whose stats already confirm him as a legend, will square off in a game that will decide the Kiwi component of the Super Rugby Final.
Beauden Barrett, now a regular addition to the All Black squad, is now involved in what is some would suggest is a ‘bidding war’ between the Hurricanes and Blues, while the latter could be part of an audacious bid to bring Benji Marshall to rugby union, an uncertain mix to a growing pool of talent.
Add to the mix Colin Slade, who has shown in the latter stages of Investec Super Rugby that he is far from a dead force, and he could shift from the Highlanders to the Crusaders who might be without the services of Carter next season.
Hamilton will play host to a couple of tens who some might cheekily suggest are the two leading first five-eighths in the game, even if they both wear All Blacks colours, and their form will be watched as all Super Rugby champions are guided by a credentialed navigator running the cutter.
If reports prove true that Carter sits out Super Rugby in 2014, he wouldn't mind reminding all of his pedigree by collecting another crown before potentially stepping away from the tournament.