Scotland must beware Dan Carter - the perfect 10

By Andy BurkeBBC Scotland
Dan Carter (left) during New Zealand training
Carter (left) has been training hard for his return to the New Zealand starting line-up after injury
Autumn international: Scotland v New Zealand
Venue: BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 15 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, BBC Radio Scotland 810MW, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & online; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

When news filtered through to the Scotland camp that New Zealand had made 13 changes to the starting line-up for Saturday's match at Murrayfield, some may have felt that the task of slaying the All Blacks for the first time in the nation's rugby history had just become a little bit easier.

Fans of Super Rugby will be familiar with the names coming into the starting XV, but some Scotland fans, passionate about their country but perhaps not students of Southern Hemisphere rugby, may have scanned the team lines and among the unfamiliar names one would have stood out - Dan Carter.

Richie McCaw will, of course, be leading the All Blacks and it will be a privilege to see one of the modern greats in action at Scotland's home of rugby. But it is Carter's presence that will set the pulses racing.

McCaw's best work takes place in the dark shadows of the breakdown. His skills often go unnoticed, by the crowd and - this is where his genius lies - by the referee.

Carter, on the other hand, has the knack of displaying jaw-dropping skills for all the world to see.

Dan Carter in action against Scotland in 2010
Carter has given Scotland problems in the past at Murrayfield

There's no masking the beauty of his game. A left-foot as wondrous as Jonny Wilkinson's in his heyday. An eye for a break to match Stephen Larkham. His tally of 1,448 points is unequalled in international rugby. His 29 tries are a fine return from a position more associated with setting up scoring chances than finishing them off.

Many feel he is the greatest fly-half ever to play the game.

The Crusader will make his first international start in a year after being out with a broken leg and he is excited to get back into the Test arena.

"A big part of that is because the body is feeling good. I'm running around freely. I'm enthusiastic because I haven't played a lot of rugby, so the energy levels are high," Carter said.

Four of Carter's 101 Test matches have come against Scotland - all victories, with a personal haul of 53 points. His list of favourite stadiums isn't a short one, given the All Blacks tend to triumph wherever they go, but Murrayfield is certainly a place where Carter enjoys playing.

"I'm fortunate that I've been around so long I've had success at most stadiums around the world," he said.

Dan Carter factfile
101 New Zealand caps, 89 victories, 1448 points, 29 tries
Makes his first start for New Zealand since winning his 100th cap against England at Twickenham 364 days ago
Has scored 53 points in four appearances against Scotland, including two tries

"I love playing here at Murrayfield. It's a fantastic atmosphere, you hear the bagpipes and the guys are going to absolutely love it out here. It's a great place to play, so I'm really excited."

In searching for reasons to believe a famous upset is possible, Scotland won't be looking to the bare statistics. In almost 100 years of trying, the Scots have managed only two draws - and no wins - from 29 meetings with the All Blacks.

Recent history doesn't read any better. In the last five encounters, the aggregate score stands at Scotland 41-201 New Zealand.

And yet the mood around the national side is positive after the five-try victory over Argentina, when the Scots showcased an attacking style only recently displayed by visiting teams at Murrayfield. Scotland approach this match with hope and excitement rather than resignation to inevitable defeat.

Head coach Vern Cotter knows, however, that if his adopted country is to topple the rugby giants of his homeland then they'll need to subdue the mercurial Carter.

"He's one the best in the business. He certainly ranks as one of the best All Blacks 10s to carry the jersey," said the former Clermont Auvergne coach.

Sean Maitland scores a try for Scotland against Argentina last weekend
New Zealand-born Sean Maitland will be in opposition to his friend, Carter

"He's patiently came back. They didn't want to play him too early, they've saved him for us, which is nice of them! He played here two years ago and we saw his class then.

"What he's good at is making you forget about him then suddenly creating a line-break which normally results in five points. So we'll have to keep an eye on him.

"We can't afford to follow the ball, we'll need to stick on him."

Carter is looking forward to going up against his old Canterbury team-mate, Sean Maitland, who will line up on the wing for Scotland.

"I might have to get a couple of early high balls put on Seany's wing just to see exactly how excited he is for this game," he joked.

"He's a top man. I'm looking forward to playing against him, he's a good mate. It'll be a great wee rivalry and I'm looking forward to catching up with him afterwards."

Scotland fans hope it is Maitland who will have the bragging rights when the old mates reunite at full-time on Saturday.

Top Stories