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Carter relishes Farrell's challenge

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/05/2016 Andrew Baldock

New Zealand superstar Dan Carter is a big fan of Owen Farrell's "competitive nature" as they prepare for a key head-to-head battle in Saturday's European Champions Cup final.

The rival No.10s and goal-kickers will have major roles to play at the Grand Stade de Lyon in front of an anticipated 59,000 capacity crowd.

World Cup winner Carter has guided Racing 92 into their first European final, while Farrell and Saracens are bidding to make amends for their defeat against Toulon in Cardiff two years ago.

"I really like his competitive nature, the way that he gets stuck in," Carter said, following Racing's final training session on Friday in a rain-lashed Lyon.

"He's not the biggest guy, but he's extremely physical and he works extremely hard to help his team get the win.

"He is an outstanding goal-kicker and he has punished the Racing side on a few occasions in the past with his accurate goal-kicking."

Saracens edged out Racing 12-11 in last season's Champions Cup quarter-finals, and it could be just as close this time around.

The last English club to be crowned European champions were Wasps in 2007, while victory this weekend would put Saracens halfway towards a possible domestic and European double, with Aviva Premiership play-off opponents Leicester looming next Saturday.

Carter, though, promises to be the biggest individual hurdle between Saracens and European glory, as he lines up in another showpiece final less than seven months after he guided New Zealand to World Cup success.

Former Munster and Ireland first five-eighth Ronan O'Gara is part of the Racing coaching staff, and believes the half-back partnership that Carter has struck up with current France international Maxime Machenaud has been a driving force for Racing this season.

"They haven't played that much rugby together, but there's a great thing between them," O'Gara said.

"It's an important combination. The two of them are very different, yet very similar. Max likes getting involved and is taking his game to a new level; Dan's composed, but Dan is also capable of doing something unexpected, which is what singles him out."

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