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How the Elton John Show almost led Dan Carter to join NFL powerhouse

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Richard Heathcote - World Rugby via Getty Images)

After watching the Elton John Show at the world-famous Madison Square Garden, legendary All Black Dan Carter was given an opportunity to realise a “childhood dream.”

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No, Carter wasn’t given the chance to become a ‘Rocket Man’ and to venture into the great unknown – but for a man from Southbridge New Zealand, what followed was just as surreal.

The two-time Rugby World Cup-winning flyhalf was approached by the now six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and was asked whether he’d like to see their facilities.

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Carter thought he was going to Patriot Place for a tour when he made the trip north to Foxborough, Massachusetts, and it’s true that the 112-Test All Black got to do just that.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Carter ended up meeting Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and was left stunned when the billionaire asked him, “What are you going to bring to the team?”

“I was in New York, Madison Square Garden, watching the Elton John Show,” Carter said on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby Australia.

“They’re like, ‘Hey, do you want to come to the Patriots and have a look at their facilities?’ “I said, ‘Oh yeah, love to.’ Thought I was going to have a tour (but) they’d obviously done some research and seen I could kick a ball.

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“So I rock up there and they go, ‘Right, we want to see if you can kick an American Football.’ I said, ‘Oh I’ve just injured my Achilles, I can’t.’

“They go, ‘Oh the owner wants to talk to you.’ I was like, ‘Oh that’s nice, Robert Kraft is going to welcome me to the facilities, that’s nice of him, I’m sure he’s a busy man.’

“Walk into his office, ‘How long have you wanted to play in the NFL? What are you going to bring to the team?’

“I’m like, ‘Woah s***, childhood dream, bit of an outside of the box story and I just b********** this, if felt like an interview.

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He goes, ‘Right, the head of scouting wants to have a word with you.’ We talked about different kickers in the competition, the importance of technique and good kickers and bad kickers in the game.

“Eventually I got my tour, amazing facilities, and then I left – they gave me a ball. They’re like, ‘We want to see some video footage of you kicking this and if we think you’ve got potential you come to try-outs next year.’

“I always used to joke with my mates (that a) goal kicker in American Football, that’s my retirement plan… I tried to kick an American Football and I was hopeless.”

In a way, Dan Carter’s NFL dream was over before it really began. The All Black didn’t end up trialing with the Patriots, and instead took his talents to France.

Carter remained in rugby, and added to his decorated legacy during a successful stint with Paris-based club Racing 92.

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Shaylen 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 11 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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