New Zealand tour
Carter anticipates bon voyage
November 30, 2008
New Zealand's Dan Carter prepares to take a penalty kick during the match between England and New Zealand at Twickenham in London, England on November 29, 2008.
Carter helped steer New Zealand to victory at Twickenham on Saturday © Getty Images

Daniel Carter didn't quite get to grips with his goalkicking at Twickenham but he made a passable reply in French when congratulated after the All Blacks' Grand Slam-sealing victory over England yesterday.

"Merci beaucoup", he said, before adding a pseudo French inflection to "It was OK". The world's premier first five-eighth bid adieu to the All Blacks with a 17-point haul as New Zealand ended their 15-test season with a 32-6 triumph.

While his teammates are looking forward to a summer at home or a rugby-free zone elsewhere, Carter joins Perpignan on Friday, the start of his six-month sabbatical in the Heineken Cup and France's Top 14 domestic competitions. Despite the transition from test football to another intensive challenge, the 26-year-old is confident he is in the right shape physically and mentally.

"It's going to be tough finishing a big season and starting another one but I just think the change in lifestyle and being in a new environment is going to be good for me," he said. "I'm confident I'll be able to get through it well. I want to give 100 percent for them and when I arrive in Perpignan I'll really set some goals.

"Obviously I have high standards and I have to live up to very high expectations."

Carter celebrated the culmination of a successful All Blacks season at the team's base near England rugby headquarters last night. Coach Graham Henry's side have retained the Bledisloe Cup, Tri-Nations silverware and added the Hillary Shield to the New Zealand Rugby Union's trophy cabinet in Wellington.

"It was a pretty good way to end the tour. To get a Grand Slam is pretty memorable," said Carter, who missed five shots at goal but set up Mils Muliaina's second try with a deft crosskick. We've got great character in the side, we lost a lot of regulars after the (2007) World Cup and we regained a few guys that have played before and a lot of new faces.

"To grind our way out of the pretty tough position we were in after a couple of losses in the Tri-Nations (to South Africa and Australia) and not to lose a game since then is pretty awesome. For a new bunch of guys it's a real achievement."

Carter played a huge role in the All Blacks' post- World Cup recovery this season although his goalkicking has not been up to its usual exacting standards in Britain. He missed a couple of handy penalties against Ireland when disturbed by the eerie silence at Croke Park and had trouble from his first attempt yesterday.

Carter smiled guiltily when his scuffed 45m penalty crawled over the bar to open the scoring. But three penalties and two conversions were missed after being struck less than sweetly. "I was kicking the ball well all week but in the warm-up I lost a bit of rhythm so that was tough. It was just one of those nights," he said.

He gets alongside his new French teammates at Leicester on Friday where Perpignan play the first leg of their Heineken Cup doubleheader against the English powerhouse.


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