Itís impossible to overstate the significance of the tournament-ending injury to Dan Carter.
The All Blacks to my mind are now possibly equal with the pack.
With Carter they had a world-class asset that made them odds-on to win the World Cup; now theyíre still among the contenders but have suffered a favouritism setback.
Heís that important. With Carter the All Blacks would have comfortably implemented their game-plan, executed moves and kicked the big goals to win the tournament. In essence, we have lost an edge we once had because we have lost a weapon thatís irreplaceable.
If people donít believe me, sit down and watch the French game again.
Israel Dagg was player of the match but for me Carter was the best player on the paddock. He created nearly everything the All Blacks did and that was because he reads the game so well.
When you talk about game management, itís not just kicking and passing when youíre supposed to Ė itís kicking at the right time and distance, and itís passing to the right player. Itís picking those moments that he is the best in the world at.
Carter out may have a silver-lining for NZ. The rest of the AB team members now know they have to lift their game to compensate. It has been complacency and unexpected set-backs during games that might have been part of why NZ Ďchokedí in the previous three World Cups.
The positive for NZ in all this is that can now adjust and take remedial/corrective steps. They can rehearse certain options with the new No10 and make sure they have senior players around the new player and get everyone in the team on speed. Itís not ideal but far better than losing pivotal talisman during a match and trying to adjust under pressure.
In summary; I think the injury to Carter made NZ more vulnerable but it will still require a special team and monstrous effort to beat this NZ team.