Quade challenges Carter as perfect 10 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Quade challenges Carter as perfect 10

By Jim Morton 27/05/2011 04:15:16 PM Comments (0)

The Queensland Reds believe peaking playmaker Quade Cooper is challenging Dan Carter as rugby's best five-eighth ahead of their "critical" attacking showdown on Sunday.

The world's top-two No.10s go head-to-head in a mouth-watering battle when Carter's Crusaders attempt to end the Super Rugby pacesetters 11-match streak at Suncorp Stadium.

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie doesn't see the Cooper-Carter contest as a mere sub-plot, admitting up front on Friday the tussle would be pivotal to the result.

"I've got no doubt the performance of the two 10s will be critical in the game," McKenzie said.

"Dan Carter is very influential and a very cool customer under pressure so he'll be very important imposing their game."

But McKenzie also went so far as to place the highly-skilled Cooper among the best players he'd coached in a career that extends from the NSW Waratahs to Stade Francais, as well as assistant stints with the Brumbies and Wallabies.

"In my mind he's been a brilliant No.10," he said.

"He's got that X-factor but I think he's developed a balance in his game and he'll be very important (on Sunday).

"I've coached plenty of players over the years and he's got one of the best packages I've been involved with in terms of communication, skill, understanding, game awareness and puts in the background work as well."

Halfback Will Genia felt his Wallabies halves partner had improved so much in the past 12 months that Cooper lost nothing in comparison to the 29-year-old All Black except for experience.

"Carter has been around for a long time and he's been so good for so long and you can't not say he's the No.1 in the world," Genia told AAP.

"But as far as skill level and ability, I think they match each other and that's why it will make for a very good contest."

Although they have been without Carter for almost half the season due to injury, the fourth-placed Crusaders are Super Rugby's leading attacking team with 41 tries.

Cooper's creativity, organisation and combination with Genia has seen the Reds chalk up 38 tries as they have surged to a 10-2 record.

The 9-10 combination has been identified by Carter as the most dangerous aspect of Queensland's game and it was crucial the Crusaders' benchmark pack took control up front.

"Genia and Cooper have exploited weaknesses in a lot of teams throughout the season so we have to get that go-forward to take their attacking abilities out of the game," he told reporters in New Zealand.

McKenzie for the first time this season named an unchanged starting team, sticking with the same starting XV which defeated the Auckland-based Blues 37-31 in their last-start clash a fortnight ago.

The Reds' timely bye has allowed fullback Ben Lucas to overcome a worrying nerve problem in his shoulder, while prop Greg Holmes (elbow infection) returns to the bench.

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