17 Nov 2015

Dan Carter: Right-footed kick was 'cheeky'

10:53 am on 17 November 2015

Dan Carter admits he was being a bit cheeky when he slotted his last kick as an All Black with his right boot in the final moments of the Rugby World Cup final, but it also brought his rugby career full circle.

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Photo: PhotoSport

Carter's feet have hardly touched the ground since he returned victorious from the World Cup. His virtuoso performance in the final against Australia was a masterclass in the game at its highest level, as he racked up 19 points in the All Blacks 34-17 win over the Wallabies.

The 33-year-old took out the World Rugby player of the year award for the third time the night after the final, and is home briefly before moving to France to play for the club Racing Metro.

Carter's final points as an All Black saw him take a "cheeky" conversion with his right foot in the dying moments of the world Cup final, after he was spurred on by his team-mates. It was the first - and last - right-footed conversion he had taken as an All Black, but Carter says it took him all the way back to his earliest rugby days.

"I grew up kicking goals in the back yard with my left foot and my right foot, so it's not like it was the first time I'd kicked a goal with my right foot."

Dan Carter : My Story

Dan Carter : My Story Photo: supplied

As revealed in his new book, Dan Carter: My Story, Carter's success was built on that endless drilling and kicking as a young boy.

"That's where it all started," he told Nine to Noon this morning. "And when I was back in that moment as a young 8, 9 and 10-year-old, I never thought that all these hours and hours I spent in the back yard, by myself, with my friends, with my father, would make me the rugby player I am today. I was just doing it for the pure love of it, the enjoyment of getting out there and kicking the ball and playing rugby.

"But because I did that tirelessly - day after day, hour after hour - I built up this skill base that made me the rugby player I am today."

Those skills took him all the way to the pinnacle of the sport, and a key role in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup triumph. Looking back on the final game, Carter said the shift in momentum for the All Blacks - which he helped spark with a crucial drop goal - meant there was "no way" the team could lose the match in the last 10 minutes.

"It's all about just backing your instincts. In those later stages of the game, you've got a plan and process you've been working on all week, and things change, and things had changed. Australia effectively had all the momentum, scoring 14 points in 10 minutes and bringing themselves back in to the game.

"So for me and the leaders of the team, it was all about getting that momentum back, and there were a couple of points in that game - the drop goal was one of them - that helped change momentum. And you could just see the body language of the guys change immediately after moments like that, I was just glad to help contribute to that."

Dan Carter

Dan Carter Photo: AFP

But after more than a decade of top-level rugby, Carter is also familiar with the psychological pressures of the game, and said it had taken him time to learn how to deal with issues of shyness and self doubt.

He said one of the goals of his new book was to show that dealing with those stresses had been a challenging process throughout the years.

"You often see the successes a sportsperson has, but they don't understand the really tough times when you're going through injuries that continue on and on for a couple of years on end. And the amount of mental battles you're having with yourself and the self-doubt and whether you still love the game.

"That's a really challenging side to being a sportsperson, especially when you have a career that lasts over a decade, there are going to be a lot of ups and downs. I think the important thing is that I have got some fantastic family and close friends that helped get me through the tough times, and helped keep me positive."

Dan Carter kicks a conversion during the Rugby World Cup final against Australia at Twickenham.

Dan Carter kicks a conversion during the Rugby World Cup final. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

While the World Cup-winning All Blacks side has been named one of the greatest ever, the team is now losing some of its key players, including Carter. But he said he had no doubt the team would continue its winning ways.

"I don't think this is going to be the end of it. There is an amazing group of guys that is continuing on with this team. Yes, six or seven guys are moving on but you've got the same management team, with Steve Hansen leading it and he is a visionary, he's a mastermind behind this team with some of the vision that he gives it the team

"There are a great core of guys that are going to continue, and we've got so much depth in New Zealand rugby, I think it will continue for years to come."

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Dan Carter's pivotal drop goal in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final against Australia. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Wall

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