By NZ Herald

Dan Carter has revealed a hilarious story about his evolution of performing the All Blacks haka, saying he used to hide behind teammates in fear of making a mistake.

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Speaking on his Facebook page along with former teammate Richie McCaw and journalist Lee McKenzie, Carter spoke about how his emotions about the haka changed throughout his career.

“We’re proud Kiwis and it’s a big part of our history and culture,” Carter said. “My emotions probably changed through my career.

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“When I first performed it, I was so nervous and absolutely s***ing myself not to stuff it up. I quickly rushed to the back of the haka and kind of hid behind the big island boys to try and hide the many mistakes that I might make.

“Obviously I grew in confidence with performing the haka and ended up pretty close to the front by the end of my career and managed to not stuff it up too many times, which was good.”

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During the wide-ranging discussion between the two All Black greats, McCaw also spoke about how he managed to fill “a big hole” after retiring from professional rugby.

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“It’s not like I wanted to still play but I knew there was going to be a big hole left,” McCaw said. “And the big one was that feeling as you stand on the start-line of a big test match … that anticipation, that feeling. How do you get that again?

“The other one was the challenge of learning something you’re not sure if you’re going to figure out how to get it right … and the team element and that feeling of sitting in the changing-room afterwards with the team, having had a good performance. That’s what you live for, and where the enjoyment comes from.

“None of it was to do with running around and getting knocked over and throwing the ball around. They weren’t the bits I was going to miss.”

He said becoming a helicopter pilot as well as being able to stay fit through adventure racing has helped him quench the thirst he still sometimes feels for professional sport.

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“Flying was a great way of filling some of that, especially the learning and the challenge. The skills I had to build up to be a commercial helicopter pilot were big jumps forward.

“I also got involved in adventure racing a bit by chance. I just didn’t know if I’d be able to handle that sort of stuff and that anticipation of a race that goes for seven days. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to get there.

“That certainly was a similar feeling to before a test match. As an athlete, I knew I needed something to keep me fit. I didn’t want in a year’s time to have to be explaining to people that, actually, I was a professional sports person.

“So I put all those things together and I guess in a way that filled a gap.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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