Hanrahan goes toe-to-toe with debutant Carter
JJ Hanrahan is going head-to-head with Dan Carter as the All Blacks legend makes his Racing 92 debut against Northampton Saints in Paris today.
Former Munster star Hanrahan has been given the nod ahead of England’s Stephen Myler to continue at out-half for the mouthwatering Pool 3 clash, and he is faced with the daunting task of outshining the biggest star in world rugby.
Carter, who led New Zealand to the World Cup in the autumn before quitting Test rugby, is reportedly being paid ¤1m a season to take over the No 10 jersey from Johnny Sexton at Racing.
However, Saints boss Jim Mallinder says his will relish the challenge posed by the superstar playmaker and his team at Stade Yves-du-Manoir.
Mallinder kept faith with Kerryman Hanrahan (23), who left Munster at the end of last season frustrated at playing second fiddle behind Ian Keatley
Northampton launched their European campaign with successive victories over the Scarlets and Glasgow.
“We are not playing brilliantly, but we are winning games and we are generating some momentum,” said Mallinder, who welcomes back Courtney Lawes following a knee injury, although fellow England forwards Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood remain sidelined.
“We are working hard for our victories. We are doing okay, but we are not getting carried away.
“We have got some big players who are out at the moment, and we have big games coming up, but the young players in the squad are stepping up and winning rugby matches for us.
“We are in a good position in Europe and matches like this one are why you play the game.”
Racing’s star-studded team also includes former All Black winger Joe Rokocoko, Argentina flier Juan Imhoff, and Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips.
Racing 92 v Northampton, live, BT Sport, 3.15