Dan can Paint It Black: Stones fan Carter set to rock HQ and make it 10 on the trot for Kiwis
23:34 GMT, 27 November 2012
It says a lot for Dan Carter’s status in New Zealand that when the All
Black fly-half announced that his wife, Honor, is expecting their first
child, the country’s Prime Minister was quick to publicly pass on his
What John Key and all Kiwis recognise is that their record-breaking No
10 is a national treasure, not to mention the world’s all-time leading
points scorer and — by common consent — the finest fly-half in the
history of Test rugby.
The 30-year-old is revered in his homeland and respected around the
globe. He has been the poster-boy for the sport for several years,
having long since reluctantly acquired the mantle which once sat
uncomfortably on Jonny Wilkinson’s shoulders.
Respected: Dan Carter (centre) is a key player for New Zealand
Stones fan: Carter went to watch the legendary rock band
Carter is a figurehead for the game but when he is abroad, in countries
where rugby is not king, he is able to enjoy the rare delights of a
lower profile. He can blend into a crowd, which is exactly what he did
on Sunday. Just hours after arriving in London from Cardiff, he paid a
visit to the O2 Arena to watch The Rolling Stones. ‘It was awesome,’ he
said. ‘It was amazing. I was rocking out!’
Having relished the role of the excited fan, he is now in business mode,
which spells trouble for England. Carter missed the All Blacks’
victories over Italy and Wales while recovering from an injury to his
achilles-calf area, but expects to be fit for the tour finale,
Saturday’s QBE International at Twickenham.
Stuart Lancaster has enough on his plate without having to tackle the
omens which Carter will bring to HQ. Rewind to June 2003 and the
fresh-faced prospect from rural Canterbury was an unused replacement as
the England of Martin Johnson and Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil
Vickery and all came to Wellington and beat the All Blacks en route to
World Cup glory.
Since then, since Carter has become a points machine,
it has been Kiwi dominance all the way in this fixture. Nine games, nine
New Zealand wins.
Pricey: Tickets to see Mick Jagger and Co cost top dollar
Surprise: Carter believes England should have kicked on after their 2003 triumph
‘I’m surprised England haven’t done more since 2003,’ said Carter.
‘They’ve shown the strength of their side only in patches since then.
Maybe consistency is what’s been lacking. They’ve got the players, so
talent’s not an issue.’
Recalling the night in Wellington when Sir Clive Woodward’s team
conquered his compatriots while he sat on the bench, Carter added: ‘It
was in 2003 that I got the All Black jersey for the first time, though
unfortunately I didn’t get on. England were in their prime and had a
successful year. We have real pride in not losing at home but they
taught us a lesson that night.’
Since then, his star has risen rapidly while England’s fortunes have
declined. Carter quickly asserted his credentials as a fly-half with the
full tool box — kicking precision and robust defence, mental fortitude
and vision, quick hands and nimble feet.
He reached the bar which had been set by Wilkinson and soared past it,
with the proof of his claim to be the world’s leading playmaker
delivered one night back in Wellington’s ‘Cake Tin’ in 2005, when he led
the Lions a merry dance in a complete display of the No 10 arts.
That, and so many other performances of the highest class, have helped
New Zealand regain their pre-eminence in the global game. Sadly, when
they finally claimed their Holy Grail by winning a home World Cup last
year, Carter missed the sharp end of the tournament through injury.
To see the Kiwi response to his demise at first hand was to understand
his role as a focal point of so much hope and expectation. Negative
bulletins about Carter prompt nationwide panic. It is a small-scale
version of the phenomenon in India, where public morale is intrinsically
linked to the health and batting exploits of Sachin Tendulkar.
So when Carter revealed on Twitter yesterday that Honor, a former New
Zealand hockey captain, is 21 weeks pregnant, the announcement made
waves. He was typically bashful about all the fuss. After admitting to
being ‘very excited’, he was asked if he hoped his child would be
sporting. Stuttering for an appropriate answer, he eventually came up
with: ‘Yeah . . . reasonable genes there, so who knows…!’
More comfortable territory was any talk of Saturday’s Test. While Carter
diplomatically suggested England can ‘beat any team on their day’, it
was somewhat more revealing when he described the hosts as
‘well-structured’. In direct opposition to him at Twickenham will be
21-year-old Owen Farrell of Saracens, who has eight caps to the Kiwi’s
93. It will be a classic case of master versus pupil.
This may be the last game in a gruelling season, but for the All Blacks
and their icon, there can be no easing off now. Steve Hansen’s side have
a 20-match unbeaten run to protect and Carter is adamant there is no
danger of complacency despite their nine-year hold on this fixture. For
his own part, the fire still burns.
‘Every time you get to pull on the black jersey you’re wanting to
perform,’ he said. ‘The drive is still there, which is important. The
hunger and desire to play the best I can every week is still there,
which is a good sign.’
It is a particularly bad sign for England. Carter has had his fun
watching the Stones. Now he is on his way back to Twickenham, ready to
paint it black once more.
DAN CARTER'S TWITTER COMPETITION
After sampling the most expensive tickets in town at the Rolling Stones concert, New Zealand star Dan Carter is offering his Twitter followers some freebies.
The fly-half is giving away two pairs of tickets (pictured right) for England’s crunch game against the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday. The catch Entrants have to submit a ‘creative’ film explaining why they deserve the tickets, performed in front of a London landmark.
Carter will announce the winner at midday on Friday.
Tweets from @DanCarter
‘Last leg of the tour and I think we should do something crazy and creative for #EnglandDCHookup’
‘In order to win double pass to the England game, you need to send me a #creative video on why you want those tickets.’
‘The video needs to include a well known London landmark in the background. Remember you have to be able to attend the game in person.’
‘Shy & don’t want to be in the video that’s fine as long the video is creative, includes a London landmark and why you want those tickets’