Superhero Dan Carter set to marvel one final time

At his fourth World Cup, with a world record haul of points in the bag, Dan Carter has one final piece of business to attend to. Picture: AFP/Getty
At his fourth World Cup, with a world record haul of points in the bag, Dan Carter has one final piece of business to attend to. Picture: AFP/Getty
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NEW Zealand rugby superhero Dan Carter could be inspired by an unusual costume collection when he aims to make World Cup history with the All Blacks today.

Carter will line up for his 112th and final Test appearance before embarking on a lucrative three-year contract with French club Racing 92.

The stand-off features in a first World Cup final at the culmination of what is his fourth tournament, and New Zealand will hope he can deliver another trademark display.

And it has emerged that Carter is an avid collector of superhero costumes, with The Phantom – a fictional crime-fighter – being his favourite.

“There haven’t been many additions over the last couple of years,” he said during New Zealand’s eve-of-final press conference at Twickenham. “My wife made me get rid of them all once our first baby arrived and she realised they were taking up an entire wardrobe. She wanted that room as the nursery, so I had to pass them on to a close friend of mine.

“I know it sounds a bit weird, but Ali Williams (former New Zealand lock) and I, we like to dress up, and so I started a collection of pretty much every superhero costume that there is.

“I am not sure of the original reasoning behind that, but, yeah, I’ve still got a bit of a collection at my mate’s house.”

New Zealand will become the first nation to claim back-to-back world titles if they beat Australia today, and Carter is relishing the challenge that awaits.

“It’s a big occasion and one that this team and myself are pretty excited about, but it’s just a matter of controlling those emotions and not thinking too much about the outcome,” he said.

“It’s not about me, it is not about guys playing their last game, it is about this 2015 All Blacks side that has been working extremely hard all year. My motivating factor is just wanting to go out there and play the best I possibly can for my team-mates alongside me.”

Carter was injured during the 2011 pool stages – New Zealand went on to be crowned world champions without him – and England 2015 was on his mind when he signed a fresh four-year contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union shortly afterwards.

“In the back of my mind, after 2011, the reason I signed a four-year deal was to give myself another chance of a World Cup,” he said. “I was looking that far ahead. ”

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen paid Carter a glowing tribute, and believes his rugby career has already been defined, whatever happens today in a first World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia.

Hansen said: “I think a guy who has played over 100 Test matches, like Dan has, his career is not defined by one game. He has already defined his career as one of greatness. He has added to the All Black jersey in many, many ways over many, many Test matches.

“It is an important Test match for him and everyone involved this weekend, but it certainly won’t define his career. That has already been written in the history books.”

Looking ahead to the final, Hansen added: “The pressure will be on both teams, but I don’t think that will inhibit either one of them. The Australian team will play to their strengths, and we will play to ours. Given the conditions are OK, I think we will see some running rugby. Whether that results in a lot of tries depends on how good the defences are.”

Meanwhile, Australia coach Michael Cheika has urged his side to exit their comfort zone and achieve greatness. The winners will be recognised as the competition’s most successful team by lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for an unprecedented third time.

Cheika insists his underdogs are determined to make the country proud, knowing that by adding a third World Cup to those won in 1991 and 1999, rugby union would receive a lift in a land where it is fourth in the sporting pecking order.

Cheika said: “You feel the support and have to make sure that you use it to push you on from being just comfortable. You can think, ‘I’m in the final so it’s all good’, or you can go out and do something great. We don’t want to be comfortable.

“One of our goals as a team has been to get our supporters in Australia enjoying the game again. That’s really important to us and that’s genuine. I’m not in the marketing department.”

New Zealand have tasted defeat only three times since being crowned world champions in 2011, most recently when Australia emerged 27-19 victors in Sydney in August. The Wallabies were humbled 41-13 in Auckland a fortnight later, but Cheika refuses to read anything into previous meetings.

“They say if you look backwards you’ll only get a sore neck. It means nothing really. It’s about what happens in the 80 minutes in front of us. We want to play to the maximum of our potential and then see where the cards fall.”

NEW ZEALAND

15. Ben Smith

14. N Milner-Skudder

13. Conrad Smith

12. Ma’a Nonu

11. Julian Savea

10. Daniel Carter

9. Aaron Smith

1. Joe Moody

2. Dane Coles

3. Owen Franks

4. Brodie Retallick

5. Sam Whitelock

6. Jerome Kaino

7. Richie McCaw (c)

8. Kieran Read

Subs

16. Keven Mealamu

17. Ben Franks

18. C Faumuina

19. Victor Vito

20. Sam Cane

21. T Kerr-Barlow

22. Beauden Barrett

23. Sonny Bill Williams

AUSTRALIA

15. Israel Folau

14. A Ashley-Cooper

13. Tevita Kuridrani

12. Matt Giteau

11. Drew Mitchell

10. Bernard Foley

9. Will Genia

1. Scott Sio

2. Stephen Moore (c)

3. Sekope Kepu

4. Kane Douglas

5. Rob Simmons

6. Scott Fardy

7. Michael Hooper

8. David Pocock

Subs

16. T Polota-Nau

17. James Slipper

18. Greg Holmes

19. Dean Mumm

20. Ben McCalman

21. Nick Phipps

22. Matt Toomua

23. Kurtley Beale