Cape Town - Dan Carter believes former All Black team-mate Aaron Cruden should start at flyhalf for New Zealand against Wales in Auckland on Saturday.
Carter, who retired from Test duty after 2015's World Cup triumph, will be a keen observer as a new era gets underway in his home country.
And when talking to NZME, he admitted that Chiefs playmaker Cruden deserves the start in the first Test after being impressed by his form.
"I was really interested to see how Cruds would bounce back from such a serious injury and credit to him and the way he has worked and he has bounced back seamlessly," said the flyhalf, who currently plays for Racing 92 in the Top 14 and is hoping to be fit for the play-offs.
"He was my pick from the start and he was in the leadership group and has been there for a couple of years now, and I think it's his time to lead this team."
Carter added: "We are spoilt for choice you could put any one of those three (Cruden, Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga) in there and they would perform and lead the team around the field, so it's a tough job for the selectors but I think Cruds with his experience (should get the nod)."
This will be the first international game New Zealand has played since Carter, Richie McCaw and several others hung up their boots. While the world class playmaker admits it will be strange to watch the All Blacks, he did reveal he is excited about the prospect of being a fan.
"I'm not too sure to be honest, I am really excited and I can't wait, and have turned into a bit of a fan. When I sort of knew I wasn't going to play for the All Blacks any more I haven't missed it to be honest. But now it's one week away from the first test it's such an exciting feeling." he said.
"Much to my French teacher's despair I ended up getting UK Sky because I missed New Zealand rugby so much and wanted to watch Super Rugby so much. I will be sitting at home at 9:30 in the morning and cheering on the All Blacks."