Richie McCaw may be the All Blacks captain, but Dan Carter is indisputably the on-field director - a peerless pivot responsible for keeping the All Blacks at the top of the world.
Since his one-man demolition of the British and Irish Lions in the second Test of the 2005 series, the 29-year-old has been widely acclaimed as the world's best No.10.
Any thoughts that an average Super Rugby season this year meant his best was behind him were quickly dispelled when the Tri-Nations series began and Carter was quickly back to his best.
He carved through the Wallabies defence, fearlessly tackled hulking South African forwards and although his kicking game deserted him against the Springboks it was back to 100 percent a week later against the Australians.
All Blacks backs coach Wayne Smith describes Carter as "a big game player and he loves the black jersey and he's a good professional. That's when you want your big players to stand up, when they're under pressure."
Chief All Blacks coach Graham Henry calls his playmaker a "special talent" while on the other side of the world, former Welsh great Neil Jenkins rates Carter as the key to the All Blacks success.
"He's just an all-round fantastic rugby player. I don't think he's got a weakness in his game. If he has, I don't think we know about it," said Jenkins.
"He just seems to go through the game unfazed. He doesn't seem to be sweating half the time, he's that good.
"I think he's just an incredible rugby player and he makes the All Blacks tick."
Carter was earmarked for greatness at an early age making regional school representative teams and he experienced international rugby in 2002 at the Under-21 World Cup where he top-scored for New Zealand with 72 points.
The following year, he had his first taste of Super Rugby, playing at inside centre beside Andrew Mehrtens for the Crusaders and a few months later was number 12 for the All Blacks outside Carlos Spencer.
Two years further on he came of age as a superstar with an outstanding performance in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions which he capped with two tries and kicked 23 points in the All Blacks 48-18 win.
Not surprisingly, he was named the IRB's player of the year a few months later.
Carter is seen as a complete footballer. In addition to being an astute tactician he has a strong running game, a powerful fend, defends with the tenacity of a loose forward and is an accurate goal-kicker.
His World Cup record is far from stellar, however. He was not required for duty when the All Blacks lost to Australia in the 2003 semifinals and hobbled from the field with an ankle injury in the 2007 quarterfinal loss to France.
Now he wants to complete his already glowing scrapbook with the Webb Ellis Cup and has been working on drop goals to add to his point-scoring armoury.
The three-pointer he landed against Australia in early August was only his third in more than 80 Tests in which he has scored more than 1,200 points, but he is working on making it a regular feature.
"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."
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
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The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.