Carter admits to nerves before Racing debut

Dan Carter (AFP)
Dan Carter (AFP)

Paris - All Black legend Dan Carter admitted to nerves before his debut for Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup, but insisted the Parisian club could beat anyone thanks to the camaraderie amongst his expensively assembled, multi-national teammates.

An early warning shot already fired cross the bow to three-time reigning European champions Toulon, at the other end of France but with a similarly rich president-cum-benefactor and loaded squad.

"I was a little bit nervous before the game, I was unsure about how I would go after having six weeks off after the World Cup. But the team made it pretty easy for me by the way they stepped up," Carter said.

Test rugby's leading points scorer and last season's world player of the year after leading the All Blacks to a second World Cup triumph, Carter was at his effortless best in the 33-3 thumping of Northampton on Saturday.

The 33-year-old, capped 112 times by New Zealand, nailed three of his four conversion attempts, and looked comfortable sitting deep in the pocket and letting Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips dictate the run of play. Seventeen passes, five kicks out of hand and one run at the English club's defence summed up Carter's afternoon.

The New Zealander, however, also never shirked from his defensive duties, making 10 tackles, and rode some challenges from England hitman Courtney Lawess, lined up at blindside flanker for the Saints.

"The first kick from the touchline wasn't that easy, but I just went through my usual routine and I was pretty happy that it sailed through. That took a bit of weight off my shoulders," Carter said of his first conversion.

"The legs were a bit heavy and my lungs were blowing a bit after six weeks not playing ... but it was good to get back out there."

Carter added: "I really enjoyed the experience. The crowd were good, it's been an awesome first couple of weeks and now I just want to keep playing.

"Hopefully I can keep building on this performance because it's brilliant to be here playing for this great club.

"Credit to my teammates, they helped me so well and to have such a comprehensive win was pleasing.

"The forward pack laid the foundation for all game and gave us go-forward and made it pretty easy for the back line."

"You look at the talent here, there are so many French internationals, Kiwis, South Africans, it's a real United Nations," Carter said of the club bankrolled by property tycoon Jacy Lorenzetti.

"But talent is not going to be what wins this competition, it's about how we all gel together.

"We showed out there that we do come together well as a team and on our day we could beat anyone.

"We've a great bunch of guys and there's a really good camaraderie in the squad. We've lots of amazing individual players from different countries, there's plenty of unity and overall, it's a lot of fun for me to here."

While insisting his team could beat anyone on their day, Carter insisted that keeping focus was key.

"Northampton will be disappointed and I'm sure they will be a different side next week," he said after Racing ran in five tries, including two from full-back Brice Dulin, to just a solitary JJ Hanrahan penalty for the Saints.

"We know it's going to be pretty tough next week at Northampton, so it's important that we recover well.

"We'll enjoy this victory, but we'll be concentrating on the return match -- we've won nothing and it's another huge game for us next weekend," he said.

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