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'The old legs have got a bit of life in them!' - Dan Carter finishes with pride

The 33-year-old was sensational for New Zealand as they claimed a second consecutive World Cup.

Murray Kinsella reports from Twickenham

THIS MIGHT COME as a shock, but Dan Carter is a bit of a nerd.

He may look like a suave, sophisticated cool dude most of the time, but this is a 33-year-old man who enjoys dressing up as superheroes in his spare time.

We’re not judging that hobby in the slightest, but it’s one that doesn’t quite sit with the image of the legendary All Blacks out-half.

Dan Carter celebrates Carter shows his joy after the All Blacks claimed the World Cup. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Former All Blacks out-half now. Carter’s favourite costume is ‘The Phantom,’ which he throws on from time to time with fellow superhero fan Ali Williams.

Even in the closing minutes of the World Cup final, with his side having secured the trophy with Beauden Barrett’s breakaway try, Carter’s nerdy side came to the fore.

He fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams. Not by winning the World Cup, but by taking a conversion with his weaker right foot.

“It’s a bit weird, but it’s always been a dream of mine to kick a conversion right-footed and I was having a wee bit of a bet with the guys on the team that it would never happen,” explains Carter.

“I can’t believe you saw that. Liam (Messam, who was running the tee) asked me to go right-footed.

“The opportunity came and I had practised a few in training with my right foot so I thought I’d give it a go.”

A boyish smile from Carter throughout, although it’s understandable that the happiness shouldn’t leave his face. The Southbridge man missed out the 2011 World Cup victory through injury, having also been sidelined as the Kiwis crashed out of the 2007 version.

Serious injuries followed for Carter during the four years building up to this tournament, making his man-of-the-match performance on the biggest day of his career all the more satisfying.

Dan Carter and Ma'a Nonu celebrate in the dressing room after winning Carter with fellow Test retiree Ma'a Nonu. Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

“A couple of years ago I never thought I’d be standing in this position,” says Carter. “It’s been an amazing career personally, I’m so proud and I couldn’t have written it better. To finish on such a high is amazing, I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved and that the team has achieved.

“It’s time to move on and retire from international rugby. First and foremost I’ll be celebrating and enjoying the next week or so with a special bunch of guys and all our supporters, before moving onto the next chapter of my life.”

The next chapter sees Carter heading to Racing 92 to replace Johnny Sexton as the club’s marquee player, and the evidence of this World Cup is that the Top 14 club are getting a player who is more than capable of thriving for a few more years yet.

Carter’s drop goal in the 70th minute was a pivotal moment in this final, coming as it did after the Wallabies had fought their way back to within four points of the All Blacks.

Ben Smith’s sin binning had changed the momentum, with Michael Cheika’s men scoring two tries in that 10-minute window, before Carter stepped up with a stunning flash of a drop goal from 40 metres out.

“I was actually lining one up a couple of minutes before that,” says Carter. “Credit to the Australian side, they fought their way back into the game with a couple of brilliant tries and put us under a lot of pressure, made it a real game of it.

Richie McCaw and Dan Carter lift the Webb Ellis cup Carter lifts the World Cup with captain Richie McCaw. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It was a challenging time for us being down to 14 men. The drop goal giving us a bit of breathing space was an important part of the game and it was instinctive. Thankfully it went over.”

Five minutes later he smashed over a 48-metre penalty to give the All Blacks a 10-point lead and with that penalty came confirmation that they would secure the World Cup. There was a brief discussion with Richie McCaw over whether Carter had the distance in his place kick, but the out-half demanded the shot at goal.

“Thankfully, the old legs have got a bit of life in them!” says Carter with a smile.

Carter admits that there was “desperation” for the All Blacks going into this game, while he says there were moments where his mind drifted from the process and he found himself thinking “too much about the outcome and the result.”

His experience allowed him to pull himself back into the moment, and Carter delivered with utter composure when his side needed him most.

Perhaps he should dress up as ‘Iceman’ next time he meets with Ali Williams.

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Murray Kinsella

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