Dan Carter has pinpointed what he believes was one of the biggest mistakes of his career and how it led to both the All Blacks’ worst and equally-best Rugby World Cup performances.
Carter has been posting online chat sessions to his Facebook this year discussing rugby, and in his latest episode he opted to discuss World Cup defeats, bringing in 2019 runner-up and England lock Maro Itoje to chat.
With Itoje’s loss in the final last year against South Africa still on the Englishman’s mind, Carter offered some advice after being part of four campaigns in his time with the All Blacks.
Carter’s advice to Itoje was to make sure he learned from the pain of defeat because the All Blacks great admitted it was something he had failed to do.
Carter played four World Cups. His first campaign as a 21-year-old with just three tests to his name saw the All Blacks exit in the semifinals to the Wallabies in Australia in 2003.
The 38-year-old said he didn’t take that defeat to heart and it eventually caught up with him four years later in Cardiff when the All Blacks were bundled out in the quarter-finals against France – New Zealand’s worst result in Rugby World Cup history.
“My first World Cup in 2003, I got over in four or five days,” Carter admitted.
“Then I had a lot of success after that and got to 2007 and wasn’t hurting as much as I should have from 2003.
“We got dealt with by the French in the quarterfinals and that one really hurt for a good six months.”
Carter believes it was the pain from 2007 that finally made himself and other All Blacks take the full campaign more seriously and a pair of world titles followed in 2011 and 2015.
“We learnt from 2007 and that was the platform for us to be successful in 2011 and 2015.
“Through that hurt, you do digest what went wrong as a team and admitted we weren’t a good team when it came to pressure.
“I’m not saying England were the same as us [last year] but there has to be something in there that they will learn from and become stronger.
“England now have a lot of guys who have experience and know what it took to get all the way to the final but not quite get there and that will hurt. It will feed their hunger come four years’ time.”
Itoje, who was a nightmare for the All Blacks the week before in their dominant semi-final win, admitted to Carter that he had only recently managed to watch a replay of the final.
“The final was extremely disappointing and it took me a long while to be able to watch the final. It was too painful,” Itjoe said.
“The first time I watched it back was during the lockdown and I wanted to take lessons from it. There are always lessons in victory and defeat and allowing my emotions to watch the game will make me a better player.
"It was still painful to watch, but I’m more optimistic about the future than the past and we have a lot of good years left in us.”