Australia 18-19 New Zealand, Tri-Nations, August 22
Joke is on Wallabies as Carter recovers from blunder
August 23, 2009
New Zealand's Jimmy Cowan embraces his halfback partner Dan Carter following their victory over the Wallabies © Getty Images
As a fair chunk of the 80,228 fans at ANZ Stadium let out a collective groan, Daniel Carter was moved to laughter.
Five minutes remaining in an intense Bledisloe Cup Test, the All Blacks 16-18 down, and his 30m dropped goal attempt from in front would have been ridiculed in a school playground. Had the All Blacks blown their chance at victory, as in that fateful day in Cardiff against France in 2007?
But the man from Southbridge has an ice-cold brain to go with his immense rugby talent. Chuckle at your blunder, move on, and go about winning a game.
"It's a pretty serious part of the game but you almost have to have a laugh. I had a bit of a shy laugh at it because it was such a dreadful attempt," Carter said. "I definitely didn't think the match was over, we still had three or four minutes left on the clock. We had to get down their end of the field and create opportunities and play positive rugby."
Carter's raking wipers kick then pinned the Wallabies back, and benchman Stephen Donald and lock Isaac Ross chased desperately. Wingers Drew Mitchell and Lachie Turner hesitated, Ross tackled and Turner was penalised by referee Jonathan Kaplan for not releasing.
Step up, Carter. With 90 seconds on the clock, his angled attempt never looked like missing. "As a goalkicker you love those situations, just go through your usual routine and I was very happy to look up and see it sailing through the posts."
It was almost inevitable Carter would play a part in the result in his 60th Test, and first of 2009, seven months after rupturing his achilles tendon in France. He kicked well in general play, picked his moments to go wide and generally added some confidence to an All Blacks side admittedly still lengths short of their best rugby.
"There's still a lot of room for improvement but this team has real heart and guts and we had to pull that out. It was such a tight encounter, and that really got us home," Carter said. "Even right in the last minute they got a turnover and had that big overlap but we managed to scramble across and shut them out which comes down to the love of playing in the black jersey. It was an awesome feeling."
Benchman Ma'a Nonu, who scored the All Blacks' only try and will reunite with Carter against the Springboks on September 12 thanks to Luke McAlister's fractured cheekbone, hailed their talisman.
"Everyone relies on DC to do everything, pull out miracles. He's only played a few in the Air NZ Cup and to come up to this level is outstanding. He's one of those world class players that steps up," Nonu said. "I'm sure people will talk about that messy droppie but he nailed that penalty under pressure."