French Rugby
Carter gets down to work with Perpignan
December 8, 2008

All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter finally got down to work with Perpignan on Monday at the start of his lucrative six-month stay with the French club.

The 26-year-old, fresh from New Zealand's Grand Slam tour of the UK and Ireland, took part in his first training session before signing autuographs for fans who gathered at the club's Stade Aime Girla home.

Carter agreed the move to France, worth a reported 700,000 euros (£560,000), after securing a temporary release from his contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union. As a result he will miss the 2009 Super 14 but he will return to New Zealand ahead of the All Blacks' next Tests against France and Italy in June.

The former IRB Player of the Year was unable to make his debut in the Heineken Cup clash with Leicester Tigers at the weekend after commercial commitments with the All Blacks restricted his preparations. But he was amongst the spectators at Welford Road to witness his new side's 38-27 defeat that leaves their quarter-final chances in the balance.

"They look a pretty good outfit," Carter was reported as saying following the game. "They will take some beating."

Carter is expected to feature in the return leg at Stade Aime Giral this Saturday in the place of converted scrum-half David Mele and will be under pressure to revive a European campaign reeling from an 18-match ban for hooker Marius Tincu and two defeats that see them trailing the Tigers and Ospreys in the race for a place in the last eight.

In his first major interview with the French media, Carter told TV station France 2 that he was not arriving to make up the numbers, instead listing personal and team goals for the rest of the season. "Obviously there are the goals of winning the Top 14 and getting to the latter stages of the Heineken Cup," he said. "Those are the team goals, but personally I want to improve my rugby and playing in a competition I am not used to is really going to challenge me.

"Hopefully I will become a better player with this experience. I saw the game (against Leicester) and got a bit of the taste of the style of rugby we play and I'm looking forward to being a part of it next weekend. Playing in the Heineken Cup was a big part of my decision. My first match will be in that competition and I can't wait."

Leicester coach Heyneke Meyer believes the arrival of Carter could work in his side's favour this weekend. "There will be big hype around Carter next week but that could work in our favour. It will be a different situation and there are things that we need to work on, but there will be a lot of pressure on them to play well.

"A player like Dan Carter will be expected to win the game on his own. That puts a lot of pressure on him, as well as his team."

Lining up against Carter for Leicester will be Aaron Mauger, so often a team-mate of the new Perpignan fly-half with both the Crusaders and All Blacks. "It will be good to catch up with Danny, it's been a while," said Mauger, who played alongside Carter in 21 of his 45 tests. "He is a really talented player with all the skills, but what most people don't realise is that he's also incredibly strong. If anybody goes in half-hearted on him, they'll soon find out."


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