Is there black magic in New Zealand?

rugby : Dan Carter is the master of black magic

Christchurch - red and black looks best on Dan Carter. The colors of his home region of Canterbury and the Crusaders, the record champions of the international super rugby league of the Southern Hemisphere. All black, the best playmaker New Zealand's legendary national team has ever had, delighted the whole nation when he performed magic.

He himself often laughed after the countless victories and titles he has won, but also cried about all the bad luck he had. But at the end of his international career in 2015 he was jubilant and danced like a wisp, because in his last mission for the All Blacks he demonstrated once again that he was the greatest. All in red, on the other hand, he made another great comeback at rugby retirement three months ago with the Kobelco Steelers in Japan.

Dan Carter currently only plays cricket

But now “Dan the Man”, as he is called, has changed colors and sports. All in white, he plays a 30-day cricket match with his son Marco in the garden of his white house in Remuera, a posh suburb of Auckland. That's how long the curfew in his native New Zealand lasts, to which he has returned in view of the worldwide restrictions caused by Covid-19 and the temporary ban on sports and games. 38-year-old Carter posted on Instagram how he passed the time. This also includes intensive fitness training. He had a Wattbike exercise bike put into his house, on which he trampled off record-breaking units. Once a professional, always a professional. Someone who, despite his immense talent, had to and wanted to work hard for everything, even if at first glance his life seems as simple and perfect as in a toothpaste advertisement: Carter is almost flawlessly attractive, has the sunniest smile on his face, is with him happily married to former international hockey player Honor Dillon and has three healthy sons: Marco, Rocco and Fox.

But none of them scored 1,598 points in 112 international matches just because the muse kissed them in the cradle. In his 13 years in the All Blacks' jersey, Dan Carter has converted so many penalties (281) and bonus point kicks (293) - in addition to 29 tries (placing the ball behind the goal line), because he practiced it like an obsession. He was like that even as a little boy.

His father Neville often told the story: Because little Daniel was playing football in the garden but kept ruining the gutter trying to shoot the ball over the house, he bought the neighboring property in the rural community of Southbridge, southeast of Christchurch, and set a rugby goal on it and gave it to the talented son for his eighth birthday. Rugby fans from all over the world make a pilgrimage to the gate as if to a place of pilgrimage. "He's the fittest player on the pitch," said then All-Blacks coach Steve Hansen about his conductor after the 2015 World Cup triumph, "his work ethic is unique."

Brilliant director

What DC did back then was a kind of miracle, because it looked like the rugby king would step down uncrowned. The ingenious director needed four world championships to fulfill his childhood dream, because winning the All Blacks 2011 title in his own country didn't really count. After an adductor tear in training, the best connection half in the world was just a spectator in the final against France.

“The only reason I signed up for the All Blacks for four more years was to achieve this goal, and I had to put up with a lot of blows; I often had doubts whether I would make it again, ”he said four years later after his triumphant appearance in the 34:17 final win in Twickenham against Australia. Then, driven by an irrepressible will, he had played again as once in May and scored 19 of the 34 points for New Zealand.

And what points! There was a dropkick fired from 40 meters, which is considered a test of courage in rugby. Then he sank a penalty kick from a distant 51 meters. And finally this unbelievably cheeky ending: Dan Carter, who had always done everything with his left hand until the last minute of his rugby career, put the ball on a tee - this is an object on which the shooter holds the rotationally elliptical flying object before penalties Bonus kicks placed - and hit him with the "wrong" foot, the right one, over the crossbar of the H-shaped gate. It was the grandiose end of his international career and a slap in the face for those critics who had already written and spoken to him from the team.

An appearance for the story

His final gala recalled the black magic of his 2005 appearances against the Lions, selecting the best professionals from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The second of the three matches in particular is considered to be the best performance of a number ten in rugby history. Since 2011, when he replaced the Englishman Jonny Wilkinson (1 246), Dan Carter has been the best points collector in the world. Probably a record for the ages.

Dan Carter set the standard for the classification of playmakers. In New Zealand, the maestro was given a kind of memorial for this with the documentary film "A Perfect 10", which was shown in cinemas last August. The perfect number ten, the man who thinks and directs and decides games, with speed, agility and precision kicks. And the world rugby player still distributes the years 2005, 2012 and 2015 - what a range! - the ball with lightning speed with hand and foot, takes opposing defensive lines by surprise, is fearless at tackling despite the lack of wardrobe stature (1.78 m / 96 kg).

The film also tells of the self-doubts and torments that the exceptional player went through to keep making the connection.

But not even the last chapter in Japan went smoothly. After four years with Racing Paris, where he was the highest paid professional in the world, and one season with the Kobelco Steelers, Carter had a neck surgery a year ago. It was only now in January that he was able to make his comeback. He had made it back up from a low, as so often, but the Covid-19 pandemic ended the season and Carter's contractual relationship. It is quite possible that he will never return and end his career without a farewell game. His last scene: a shot from the post.