But speaking to a group of school-kids in Auckland during a quick trip home, the former All Blacks champion No. 10 and now a global brand ambassador for TAG Heuer revealed the one circumstance in his stellar career that rattled him.
“One thing I love is playing in big stadiums in front of 60-, 70- or 80,000 people,” Carter told the children – beneficiaries of the iSport Foundation he started with fellow All Blacks Richie McCaw and Ali Williams – assembled for a masterclass on a field at St Paul’s College.
“But playing for the first time in Ireland the crowd went silent while I was lining up a kick at goal,” Carter said. “It’s intended as a mark of respect they show to kickers, but it threw me because I was used to dealing with all sorts of noise.”
Carter told the wide-eyed kids he kicked poorly that day as a result of his reaction to the eerie silence, and that he realised he needed to change his approach.
“After that, I knew I had to focus on my routine, on the process and not on externals,” Carter said. “Things went better from then on.”
Responding to a challenge from one of the kids, Carter then slotted a placekick from 50m in bog-like conditions.
Hours later, looking sharp in jacket and dress shirt, Carter was mingling with guests in a pumping Auckland nightspot, The White Room, launching the auction of a limited-edition Dan Carter TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Calibre 16 timepiece.
The watch sale, combined with Carter’s efforts in a passing competition back at St Paul’s that afternoon, saw TAG donate $NZ18,000 to the iSport Foundation, which helps aspiring junior athletes meet the costs of their sporting pursuits.
Though retired from Test rugby, Carter, 36, is playing on. Having recently finished a stint with Racing 92 in France’s Top14 domestic competition, he flies out for Japan later this week to begin a two-season association with the Kobelco Steelers.