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‘It’s quite awkward’: Dan Carter on the ‘very different’ 2023 All Blacks

By Finn Morton
Scott Barrett of the All Blacks talks to team mates in a huddle after winning The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Legendary playmaker Dan Carter has been invited into the All Blacks’ inner sanctum this year as part of a “legacy group” ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup.


World Cup winners Keven Mealamu, Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith, Liam Messam and Carter have all gone behind the scenes to share their experiences and support the current crop of All Blacks.

Just last week in Dunedin, two-time World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw was seen watching on as the All Blacks were put through their paces at Friday’s captain’s run at Logan Park.

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McCaw also sat with the team – those who weren’t selected in the matchday squad – in the stands at Forsyth Barr Stadium during the Test on Saturday afternoon. That’s leadership and experience that can’t be bought.

While their playing days are over, these five legends are continuing to add to the distinguished legacy of the black jersey ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France.

“It’s a new bunch and you guys know pretty well that when you finish playing, you get invited back into the changing rooms or the team room and it’s quite awkward,” Carter said on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby Australia.

“I don’t know if you guys feel it but going back into that environment, you kind of feel like a spare wheel.


“You always say, ‘Once an All Black, always an All Black,’ but things move on pretty quickly once you’re finished in the black jersey.

“They invited five of us just to be a fly on the wall, just sit in the background and just see if we pick up on anything around their preparation or if any of the young guys have any questions.

“This legacy group was formed and it was (Keven Mealamu), Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith, Liam Messam and myself.”

Along with former New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu, Carter helped the All Blacks prepare for their highly anticipated Bledisloe Cup clash with the Wallabies at the MCG.


The two greats were in “for part of the week,” and helped the New Zealanders prepare for one of the biggest days on their rugby calendar.

“There’s just something about the Bled that I love,” Carter added.

The All Blacks went on to win that Test 38-7, although the victory – which saw the New Zealanders retain the Bledisloe Cup for another year – didn’t come easy.

Australia were well and truly in the fight, and actually looked like the better team throughout the opening quarter of the Test. But they couldn’t turn their attacking pressure into points.

The All Blacks made them pay.

Tries to Caleb Clarke, Rieko Ioane and Mark Telea saw the All Blacks unleash an attacking onslaught during the second term, as they ran away with a big win in front of almost 84,000 fans.

But after the Test, Carter was left stunned. The former flyhalf couldn’t believe how “disciplined’ the current squad are.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Carter added. “They all had a drink out of the Bled to celebrate it and it was very different to how it was 20-odd years ago.

“They’re just so disciplined. There’s still a lot of hurt from 2019.

“They had a curfew and they wanted to celebrate behind closed doors in the hotel… it was very different to how it used to be.”

The All Blacks overcame an improved Australian outfit in Dunedin the following weekend, with replacement Richie Mo’unga kicking a match-winning penalty at the death.

New Zealand beat their arch-rivals 23-20 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, which extended their unbeaten run to four Tests from as many starts this year.


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1 Comment
Warner 336 days ago

Great work guys it's this simple but effective support by these legends that do inspire our team of 33 , chosen to represent.
They were also inspirational in the Black Ferns World Cup glory.
What a luxury having so many ex World Cup winners available to mentor the next generation.

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