Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Send Carter to Blues and everyone will be a winner

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Dan Carter. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Carter. Photo / Getty Images

The drive-by rugby career of Benji Marshall offers all sorts of tantalising opportunities. The New Zealand Rugby Union deal to let Marshall cut and run after a warm-up session with the Blues is at odds with the long-term deals they advocate.

It showed the NZRU can change the rules to suit themselves and that Marshall's contract was as porous as any under-seven side's defence.

So while the NZRU is in the business of fixing the Blues problems they should offer this solution.

When Daniel Carter finishes his sabbatical towards the tail end of the Super 15, they should steer the All Black first five-eighth towards playing for the Blues.

He and his family live in Auckland so it makes sense on a variety of fronts. Carter has considered the switch several times before but then pulled back when he gets goaded about his red-and-black allegiance.

The Crusaders are moving along quite well with Colin Slade running the backline and backup from Tyler Bleyendaal or Tom Taylor. That is an abundance of talent and choice for any franchise.

Carter wants to resume Super Rugby with the Crusaders after the June test series, but that will create dilemmas. Others who have settled into a groove and team patterns will have to make way, presumably, for an eager but rusty Carter.

Until he is ready to play he can help mentor the Blues squad's five eighths Simon Hickey, Chris Noakes and Ihaia West as he continues his lengthy rehabilitation from a range of injuries.

As Carter gets back into the training groove with the Blues it will also allow him to work alongside All Black backs Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu while guiding others like Charles Piutau, Francis Saili and Frank Halai.

The Blues have not been able to settle on a five-eighth since Carlos Spencer left.

When Ihaia West was confirmed in the group, that rounded out to 20 those who have played five eighth for the Blues since Spencer left in 2005.

Think Tasesa Lavea, Luke McAlister, Orene Ai'i, Isa Nacewa, David Holwell, Nick Evans, Isaia Toeava, Jimmy Gopperth, Stephen Brett, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Lachie Munro, Michael Hobbs, Gareth Anscombe, Piri Weepu, Chris Noakes, Marty McKenzie, Baden Kerr, Hickey, Marshall and West.

Senior players benefit from the extra stimulus as they come towards the end of their careers and a deal to sign on for the Blues as a player-backs coach with Graham Henry leaving after this season, might be just the boost Carter needs to carry him through a few more campaigns.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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