- Dan Carter lauds Jonny Wilkinson’s quality and longevity as points record nears
- All Blacks No.10 also on why he owes Toby Flood and is practising drop goals
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Dan Carter has paid tribute to the quality and longevity of Jonny Wilkinson as the New Zealand No.10 aims to regain the all-time points record from the England fly half.
The 29-year-old playmaker is seven points behind Wilkinson’s all-time Test points scoring record of 1,195 and has the opportunity to overtake the England man again in the shortened 2011 Tri Nations, which kicks off on July 23.
Carter, who first must negotiate a Super Rugby final against the Reds for his Crusaders side this weekend, also thanked England fly half Toby Flood for keeping the margin firmly within his range.
"When I got the points scorer title back in my last Test match last season I always knew that Jonny would take it over again at some stage,” he said.
"I’m quite lucky that Toby Flood was playing some good footy and keeping Jonny out otherwise he could’ve scored a few more points.
"But it’s great to see Jonny back playing, he's deserving of that record, he’s been around for a long time and he’s a fantastic player.
"Hopefully I can get a few more games in before the world cup and get those points back as soon as possible."
Photo: Getty Images
Meanwhile, Carter admits to taking a leaf out of Wilkinson’s book and working hard to practice drop-goals after identifying it as a weakness in the All Black game.
Somewhat surprisingly, the 79-cap star has not slotted a single drop goal in his 88 Rugby World Cup points while Wilkinson has kicked 13 in his 249 points total, including the famous last-gasp three-pointer to defeat Australia in the 2003 final.
Recent history against France has provided stark motivation with two Christophe Lamaison drop-goals giving the French a 43-31 victory in the 1999 semi final and – after Carter went off injured – failing to convert pressure into points in the 21-18 quarter-final defeat to Les Blues in 2007.
New Zealand are grouped with France in Pool A and the 29-year-old added: “You can't avoid it. It's important, especially come World Cup time when games are so intense and tight.
"Historically, the All Blacks and myself do not take a lot of dropped goals but it's an important part of my position. I'm working away at it and building my confidence so I can bring it out when needed.
"I know the opposition love playing and beating the All Blacks, just look at the French team on a couple of occasions.
"It's like they've played their grand final against the All Blacks and the following week you know they'll bum out and not win because they have put everything into the week before against us."