Dan Carter has weighed in on who he believes is the right flyhalf to start for South Africa in their Rugby World Cup final showdown against New Zealand on Saturday night.
It’s a debate that has been raging in Springboks circles for the past month. Stormers’ playmaker Manie Libbok was Jacques Nienaber’s first choice 10 at the start of the tournament, but his issues from the kicking tee soon cast doubt over whether or not he was the right man to get the job done in the World Cup’s knockout stages.
Old-hand at the tiller Handre Pollard, who failed to make the initial squad due to injury, has since proven his value, playing a starring role in South Africa’s last-ditch win over England in the semi-final. Pollard came on after just 30 minutes, with Libbok struggling to make a positive impact for the Springboks in wet conditions.
For many, it was a performance that should seal Pollard’s starting spot, although the Springboks coaching ticket has suggested that Libbok may well start again.
Now Dan Carter has had his say.
The All Blacks legend – who was speaking on the official Rugby World Cup podcast believes that Pollard – his old sparing partner from the 2015 Rugby Worled Cup final – should get the nod.
“[In the semi-final against England the Springboks] needed someone who would be calm, clear and decisive in a big game with World Cup experience. That is why they had Pollard on the bench. If he will be on the bench this week, it’s highly unlikely. Just to have that depth and control.
“I think with the pressure, the experience of Pollard in such a big occasion, with the hurt and learnings he had from 2015, he’s been on both sides, successful and unsuccessful campaigns,” Carter added. “He’s really going to play a key part, having that experience out there right out from the get-go.
“It’s a tough one to take for Libbok but he has been a fantastic player, in different conditions, dry conditions, when it’s a bit more open.”
Carter believes the All Blacks must match the Boks physically if they are to win.
“They have to match them physically. That starts at the set piece. scrum, lineout and breakdown they need to match them. Then take their opportunities.”