Barkley: Carter can inspire Racing victory

Olly Barkley believes Dan Carter's class and experience could make the difference when Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers meet in the semi-final of the European Champions Cup on Sunday.

Legendary former New Zealand fly-half Carter has hit the ground running in his first season with Racing, playing a key role in the Paris club's quest for European and Top 14 glory.

Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill warned the Premiership side would be "naive" to target World-Cup winner Carter at the City Ground this weekend. 

But former Racing and England fly-half Barkley believes much will hinge on whether it is Carter or Tigers number 10 Freddie Burns who is able to pull the strings in Nottingham.

Barkley told Omnisport: "I think that if Leicester weren't playing at home I'd probably say that would be a basic win [for Racing], by maybe seven to 10 points, but with Leicester on home soil they'll be super confident.

"The one thing Racing do have is a guy controlling that game that is very, very experienced in controlling knockout games in Carter.

"Freddie Burns is very, very talented but doesn't have a huge amount of experience at playing in very big games. I think a lot will come down to the quality of ball that the 10s get. If Freddie gets decent ball he can make that team very dangerous.

"Even if Racing don't get good quality ball I think Dan Carter is good enough and experienced enough to still manufacture a win. A lot of it will come down to what team turns up on the day.

"That sounds cliche but they're well-matched and I think the game could potentially be decided at fly-half. I think Freddie will need decent ball to be able to flourish in that game, whereas Carter is very capable of winning games when on the back foot."

Carter will be reunited with his former Crusaders and All Blacks team-mate Aaron Mauger, now head coach of a Tigers side eyeing the club's third triumph in Europe's premier club competition and a first since 2002.

The Tigers hammered French champions Stade Francais 41-13 to reach the last four and will aim to claim another Parisian scalp, while Racing ended Toulon's Champions Cup dominance with a dramatic victory to reach their first semi-final in this competition.

Racing are flying the flag for France, with Premiership rivals Saracens and Wasps doing battle in the other semi-final on Saturday.

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