He’s a superstar All Black who regularly finds himself in front of crowds of screaming fans and facing hordes of TV cameras and photographers, but Dan Carter was once a very shy child.
The rugby player revealed his retiring tendencies while meeting with a lucky group of children for a photoshoot at Auckland’s Eden Park. “I would have been the shy little kid that didn’t say a word the whole day,” he says. “So hopefully I can encourage a few of them to really enjoy today and express themselves and have some fun.”
Dan (29) – who grew up in the small town of Southbridge, near Christchurch, and attended Christchurch Boys’ High School – was hosting a group of 15 kids from around the country. The children were winners of a Jockey competition to become the new faces of the Jockey Junior brand, plus take part in a photoshoot, kick a rugby ball around, and have lunch with the star.
The first five-eighth has previously admitted to being a “very shy and quiet young man with big goals that I often kept to myself” as a young adult growing up in the country. However, after chatting with the Jockey Juniors, he said there were Kiwi sports legends he would have loved to meet when he was playing school and club rugby.
“When I was growing up, there were the likes of John Kirwan, Grant Fox and even Andrew Mehrtens in my early teens. When I was out in the backyard I was imitating everything they did and if I had the opportunity to have a wee kick around with them, it would have been a dream come true.”
Dan said he could see that some of the kids he met would come out of their shells quickly, especially with a rugby ball in their hands. “I haven’t thrown the ball around yet, but a couple of them are pretty keen to show me how to kick,” he says with a grin. “There might be a couple of potential All Blacks – and Black Ferns
as well, with the girls being involved.”
Dan, who recently announced he will be staying in New Zealand for the next four years to play for the All Blacks despite lucrative offers from overseas, also said he was lucky to be allowed onto the stadium’s hallowed grass ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September.
“We don’t often get let onto Eden Park actually, it’s quite special,” he says, looking at the empty stands around him. “Normally we get a wee train in the day before the game and that’s about it, so for them to let us on today is cool. It’s pretty quiet here at the moment with no-one in the crowd, but I’m sure that will be quite different in a few months.”
Dan, who ranks third on the list of top-scoring rugby players in the world, has been a face of Jockey for some
time now, appearing on billboards and in advertising campaigns for the underwear brand.
“It’s a great line Jockey have gone down with the kids. A lot of fans and supporters are children, so to be able to give back and have a bit of fun with the kids who are here today is a great idea.”