As part of Sky Sport’s quest to find New Zealand’s Greatest XV, a panel of leading journalists and broadcasters – Grant Nisbett, Ken Laban, Rikki Swannell and Phil Gifford – were last week asked by The Breakdown who they thought were the country’s best-ever halfback and first-five.
The panel were unanimous in their verdict that Smith, the current All Blacks No 9, and Carter, the two-time World Cup-winning No 10, were New Zealand’s greatest halves pairing.
Their verdict was supported by the Kiwi public, who voted Smith (77 percent of the public vote) and Carter (89 percent) as the best-ever All Blacks in their respective positions on social media.
Smith, the 101-test veteran who was part of the 2015 World Cup-winning All Blacks squad, drew praise from various All Blacks figures for his all-round ability, but particularly his speed and world-class passing.
“You give me one part of his game that isn’t up there as a great All Black,” former All Blacks head coach Laurie Mains told Sky Sport.
“He’s got all of the skills and all of the halfback traits – passes brilliantly, passes quickly, communicates with his forwards well, takes gaps when it’s on, knows when to pass, how to kick, where to kick.