Watch Out Lions - Tom Carter Is Coming

Would you let this man captain your Rugby team?
 Tom Carter is the Waratahs Captain?! How did it come to this?

Tom Carter is the almost man of Australian Rugby. Even though he's played almost 80 Super Rugby games for the Waratahs it feels like he never cemented his place in the team. He once scored three tries in a match, but only a handful of his tries stick in the memory. And, according to rumour, he's passed the ball twice, though after searching the Waratahs archives (2 miles below ARU headquarters at St Leonards, accessed by retina scans and secret passwords) there's no evidence of it.

Captaincy material?
Last year was supposed to be Carter's last at this level. In many ways it was his most successful. People started to recognise him in the street. Although they weren't exactly sure what his name was or which sport he played, it was something. Amongst the Rugby community he developed a cult-like status and was compared to Matt Dunning, even occasionally in favourable terms.

But as a parting gift to NSW Rugby (or maybe it was a joke), one of the things Michael Foley did as he was on his way out was to re-sign Carter to another season.

Leading by example?
For the early part of the 2013 season, new coach Michael Cheika stuck with tried systems and started Carter in the centres. He played a few games, did not much, Rob Horne came back from injury, and Carter returned to Sydney Club footy with Sydney Uni where he's played hundreds of games with great distinction.

And that was supposed to be that.

Is there a pattern emerging here?
But what's this? With a dozen Waratahs called up to international duties or injured, Michael Cheika was forced to scour the extended playing squad and Club footy for some willing hard heads to firstly take on The Force, and then the Lions this Saturday. Well they don't come with a harder head than Tom Carter.

Who better to stand up to, and go toe-to-toe with, the Lions Duncan McCrae style? Who better to pick out a weak link and run at it full bore. Who better to bend the defensive line, and a few bones along the way? Who better to take the piss in the post-match interview?...

“That’s probably one for the true believers and people like Phil Waugh and the past greats…” Did captaincy goes to Tom Cater’s head (but not the squishy bit in the middle of it) during the post-match interview with Brendan Cannon after the Force game or was he dared to say this?

“They were well rested.” was Carter’s response to a Brendon Cannon question regarding Michael Foley resting players from the Lions game to take on, and lose awfully, to the Tahs.

So whatever happens on Saturday night, some things can be guaranteed; Tom Carter won't die wondering, he won't give a stuff about leading by example, the pre-match rev up will be full of expletives, the post-match interview will be worth the price of admission, and Tom Carter can drift into retirement a contented man.

UPDATE: Robbie Deans has released Dave Dennis and Rob Horne to play for the Tahs. Dennis will resume his captaincy duties. Bugger.