31 Oct 2015

A final hurrah for Dan Carter?

10:58 am on 31 October 2015

All Blacks first-five Dan Carter will finally get the opportunity to live one of his childhood dreams when he takes the field at Twickenham in tomorrow's Rugby World Cup final.

Dan Carter (R) and Wyatt Crockett arrive for the final All Blacks training session ahead of the World Cup final at the Pennyhill Park Hotel, Bagshot, London. Rugby World Cup 2015. Thursday 29 October 2015. Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Dan Carter (R) and Wyatt Crockett arrive for the final All Blacks training session ahead of the World Cup final Photo: Photosport

The 33-year-old has been cursed by bad luck in previous World Cups, too often watching from the stands at the most critical moments.

However the stars have finally aligned to give Carter the shot at glory he's been preparing for since he was a child, kicking goals over the posts his father installed for him at their home in rural Canterbury.

"I've won a few World Cups in my backyard when I was five or six," Carter told reporters on the eve of the final against Australia.

"It's something I used to love to do, putting yourself in those positions."

Fully 111 Tests later and with a list of accolades as long as your arm, the only thing missing on Carter's resume is to play a starring role in a successful World Cup campaign.

His heartbreak at missing the business end of the tournament four years ago has fuelled his desire to continue to try and end his career on a high.

"I was pretty devastated (in 2011) but I knew I had a lot to add to New Zealand rugby," Carter said.

"The reason I signed a four-year deal (in 2011) was to give myself a chance at another World Cup - pretty far-fetched thinking that far ahead, but that's what was driving me."

Following that disappointment he bounced back to win the World Player of the Year award, but it looked like his quest to star at a World Cup might never be completed as he struggled through two years of injury woes.

But for once it seems luck is on his side and he's already showed his class at the tournament with vintage performances in the last two weeks, doing enough to earn a nomination for his fourth player of the year award.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said Carter's now cemented his legacy, regardless of the result at Twickenham.

"A player who has played 100 Test matches like Dan doesn't have his career defined by one game," Hansen said of his star pivot.

"That's already been defined in the history books. Dan has enhanced the jersey. When you start out as an All Black, that's one of the greatest things you can do."

"When you think of his position it is a remarkable thing to do.

"All these guys (Grant) Fox, (Andrew) Mehrtens, when they left they said we couldn't replace them - but a little feller from Southbridge has done just that."

Despite what his coach says, you get the feeling Carter knows he'll be judged by the result of this game, but he's trying to put it to the back of his mind with so much at stake.

"It's not something I have been thinking about. I have just been focusing on what I can do for the team. It is not about me, it's about the 2015 All Blacks.

"We have a big challenge tomorrow and it's these kinds of challenges that this team loves."

However, if he can rise to the challenge and exorcise his World Cup demons, there are few who would begrudge the boy from Southbridge his moment in the spotlight, and a dream ending.