Was Dan Carter the world's best rugby player in 2012?
It was a good night for New Zealand at the 2012 IRB
Awards, where they claimed all the top awards on the back of a
Daniel Carter, the All Blacks and Steve Hansen all walked
away with silverware, taking Player of the Year, Team of the
Year and Coach of the Year awards respectively.
That the All Blacks won Team of the Year comes as little
surprise. Boasting a record of 12 wins, one loss and one draw
for the year, they were by far and away the dominant team.
Only a shock loss by what looked a tired team at the end of a
long season on Saturday prevented them completing their first
unbeaten season since 1997.
Even so, they put forth an impressive resume, with two wins
over each of South Africa, Australia and Argentina, while
also claiming the scalps of Wales, Scotland, Italy and
Ireland. There really is no argument against them, such has
been their dominance.
That Steve Hansen won Coach of the Year was also little
surprise, after guiding to the All Blacks to this impressive
record in his first season in charge of the side.
But Daniel Carter winning Player of the Year is a different
story. Sure he was good. Very good in fact. Was he really the
best player in the world in 2012 though?
Questions were asked when it was announced the short list for
the award included England rookie Owen Farrell. There seemed
no logic whatsoever to explain his inclusion, particularly
when both Kieran Read and Conrad Smith were missing.
Both Read and Smith would have made good cases to take the
award home. As it was though, neither would have the
opportunity so New Zealand's chances came down to
inspirational captain Richie McCaw and master class first
five-eighth Dan Carter.
McCaw seemed the logical choice here. Having carried the team
at times he was simply sensational and a large reason for the
All Blacks' dominance. His physicality was immense and his
ability to cover up for others' mistakes bailed them out on
Carter meanwhile was good, but perhaps wasn't quite as
influential as McCaw. The team coped without him when he was
sidelined with an injury, beating Argentina and South Africa
in consecutive weeks. While he was missed, the games were
Had McCaw been absent it must be questioned whether they
would have been, particularly the Springbok game where he
virtually won the game by himself.
That McCaw is a three-time winner of the award shouldn't come
into consideration, but it is hard not to feel that there may
have been an inclination to look to someone else.
It's not that Carter didn't have a good season. There were
plenty of memorable moments including dominant performances
against the Springboks and Pumas away from home in respective
weeks, as well as a last-gasp drop goal to beat Ireland in
the second test in June.
Certainly he would have ranked in the top five players in the
world. Not the best though after the dominant season's had by
McCaw, Read and Smith.
2012 marks the second time Carter wins the award, having also
been named the best player in the world in 2005. This makes
him only the second player after McCaw to win the award