I don't like it. I just can't come to terms with the thought of the All Blacks without one Daniel William Carter.

I know, I know... there's Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett plus the advancing skills of Lima Sopoaga and emerging talents like Damian McKenzie, Otere Black and Ihaia West. The fountain of No 10s will continue to pour out class, nothing more certain.

But can't we keep Dan?

Hopefully the All Blacks take the 2015 World Cup, making history for back-to-back Cup wins, Carter banishing the ghost of being at four World Cups and never making a final, albeit with a winner's medal from the last one. If not, we need to buy him out of his overseas contract and make him - pass an Act of Parliament if necessary - turn out again. This bloke could still do the business at 37 at the next World Cup.


All those schmucks who called for his head when it was clear the All Blacks were bringing him carefully to a peak timed for - oh, I don't know, the World Cup? - must have felt schmuckish watching Carter assert his status as the best No 10 in the game.

The best ever? Even if we greet Stephen Larkham's assessment of him as the best in history as a bit of pre-game over-confidence boosting by the Wallabies, Carter still nudges out the great Barry John (sorry, Wales) in my view as the most influential 10 ever.

Years ago, I took part in a media debate on whether Carter or the monumental Richie McCaw was the best player in the world. Silly, really. How do you compare?

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen thinks the battle of the back rows will be won by the tight five's, and 'getting good front foot ball'. He is also hopeful that weather permitting 'we will see running rugby' but maybe the pressure will mean not too many tries.

I plumped for Carter, saying: "The question - perhaps the only relevant question - is which player would have won more matches for you... Carter wins games in the following ways: scoring a try (29 in 111 tests), kicking goals, dropping goals, pass-kicking, making a break, setting up a try. He has a fend, a sidestep and that uncoachable ability of time, space and a piece of brilliance to clinch a match; the clinical ability to identify and execute the right play." And you don't have to hide him on defence as the Wallabies do with the likes of Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale and sometimes even Bernard Foley.

Carter's famed 11/10 performance against the Lions in 2005 was the best, single first-five display I have ever seen. Two tries, four conversions, five penalties for 33 points, he so overshadowed Lions and England legend Jonny Wilkinson that day, it was clearly a baton change of global proportions.

I got grief from some for plumping for Carter over McCaw but, if your life depended on a match-winning kick, would you want McCaw to take it? Carter is the greatest single pointscorer in the game, over 300 points clear of Wilkinson. His points-per-test ratio (over 14) is higher than anyone else - Wilkinson, Grant Fox, Andrew Mehrtens, Neil Jenkins and all.

It's appropriate his test career ends at this, perhaps the most sporting Rugby World Cup ever. He is the epitome of the humble guy who doesn't put a foot wrong. 'Dan Carter makes outrageous statement' is a headline you'll never see.

Heyneke Meyer, Steve Hansen, Schalk Burger, Michael Cheika and others have led the way in dignity rather than indignation in this tournament, and there is no better advertisement for the game. Carter has been like that his whole career. That players and coaches can deal with a sometimes brutal game of passion and pressure and demonstrate rugby's camaraderie is a boon for World Rugby. Not even millions of dollars of marketing spend can showcase rugby's spirit like that.

It hasn't always been so. There have been plenty of past examples in New Zealand of teams huddling in their own socially-awkward corners after a match and who thought 'camaraderie' was a new model Toyota.

In Dan Carter, rugby had a new model No 10 and a model role model. Will we ever see his like again?