By Lee Stace
THE MASTER and the man looking to knock him off his throne will come up against one another when the Crusaders’ road show makes its way to Brisbane to tango with those high-flying Queenslanders wearing red.
Indeed, the match-up between Dan Carter and Quade Cooper will be worth the price of admission alone at Suncorp Stadium when the two teams get it on like Donkey Kong, to coin a popular phrase from the video gaming world.
Like Luke Skywalker’s epic lightsaber duel with Darth Vader on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi or Hulk Hogan’s showdown with Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III, it has all the hallmarks of being a classic.
So, after much smack-talking from their respective fans, ‘DC’ and ‘The Tokoroa Kid’ are finally going to come up against one another in a high-stakes, winner-takes-all encounter of test match-like proportions.
Not only is 18kgs of success up for grabs in the form on a new-look trophy, but bragging rights heading into the Tri Nations will also be on offer to the man who comes out on top.
No pressure, boys.
Cooper has been a superstar for the Reds this season. There is no doubt about it. Go back and review his man-of-the match performance against the Blues last weekend.
He oozes class and confidence. His gambling style is entertaining and may be risky, but he seems to know exactly when to reach into his bag of tricks and pull out something spectacular.
However, for all his unorthodox razzle-dazzle and match-turning brilliance, Cooper can also play it safe. He knows how to plug the corners, kicks his goals (dusty performance against the Blues aside) and is not afraid to stand in the pocket and guide the ball between the sticks, something he has done more than once this season.
But that’s not to say Carter – who controlled proceedings well and kicked 19 valuable points in the Crusaders’ 29-10 Cape Town demolition of the Stormers in the weekend’s other semifinal – is losing his touch. Far from it.
The All Blacks pivot is still pound for pound the best allround No 10 on the planet. He is an equally silky and gifted ball-player, and while his displays on the paddock have hardly received the same airtime as his more flamboyant Wallabies counterpart, Carter’s contribution to any team is gold, as he often turns in a number of fine – yet understated –performances.
So the scene is set for the two best first fives in the business to entertain the masses. Whoever wins this individual battle is likely to win the Reds-Crusaders war.
What do you think?
This weekend throws up another set of games which could go either way.
Which player was unlucky not to make the Wallabies’ preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series?