The Stormers’ unpredictable quality has the world’s best flyhalf worried ahead of Friday’s showdown at Newlands.
The Stormers are unpredictable on so many levels, and a look at their win-loss pattern of the 2007 campaign will confirm they lacked consistency. A year previously, they pulled off a massive upset when they beat the Crusaders 28-17 at Newlands, and although he didn’t start that day Carter has not forgotten what was the Saders only defeat of the 2006 season.
The All Blacks pivot has been in fine form over the first two matches, picking up 24 points in the 54-19 demolition of the Bulls last Friday. The Bulls offered very little in the way of variety, but Carter told keo.co.za he expects more of a test from the Stormers attack.
“The Stormers are a team that worry me. They’ve got players capable of winning the big games and they showed that the last time we played in Cape Town. They had their backs to the wall and yet they got up to give us a beating.”
Carter will line up with Stephen Brett and All Blacks centre Casey Laulala on his outside, not to mention the underrated catalyst of Leon MacDonald at fullback. The Stormers defence has been sound thus far, but the true test will be in how they go about their attack.
Two tight losses in as many weeks will have dented their confidence, but Carter is experienced enough to know they can’t be underestimated.
“I don’t think you can read too much into the two games they’ve lost,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned it’s going to be a huge challenge. But that’s what we love, and we’ll certainly be up for it.”
The Crusaders have scored 11 tries in two games and currently top the Super 14 table with 10 log points. It’s clear they’ve had no trouble adapting to the new laws.
“In New Zealand we do favour a more free-flowing game, so I guess it’s been a more natural transition for us,” said Carter. “I think South African teams may potentially take a little longer to adapt as they’ve been very defensively-orientated over the last few years.
“But I’ve no doubt they’ll eventually come round.”
Carter finds the new laws have enhanced his particular strengths.
“As a flyhalf, I’ve enjoyed the extra space behind the scrum. It gives you a great opportunity to get over the gain line. We’ve had to do a lot more preparation in terms of fitness, as the increased speed of the game does require higher fitness levels.”
By Jon Cardinelli