The rugby world is paying tribute to All Blacks legend Dan Carter, who announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 38.
Carter will go down as one of the all-time greats, hanging up his boots as a two-time World Cup winner, a three-time IRB World Player of the Year and the highest point scorer in the history of test match rugby.
Carter's last game for New Zealand was a man of the match performance in their World Cup final victory over Australia in 2015. In the years since, Carter's club career has included spells with Racing 92 in France, Kobelco Steelers in Japan and more recently, with the Auckland Blues.
I officially retire from professional rugby today. A sport I’ve played 32 years which has helped shape me into the person I am today. I can’t thank everyone who has played a part in my journey enough, particularly you, the fans. Rugby will always be a part of my life. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/HTJl85ZcRB
— Dan Carter (@DanCarter) February 20, 2021
There are a long list of glittering accolades to choose from when remembering Dan Carter's career. Perhaps none were as emphatic as his display in the second test between New Zealand and the British & Irish Lions in 2005. In a 48-18 win for the All Blacks, Carter racked up an incredible 33 points, scoring two tries, four conversions and five penalties. This smashed the previous record of most points by an All Black in a Lions test, and Carter's performance is considered by many as arguably the greatest by any number 10 in test match history.
For many Irish fans, the 2005 tour is best remembered for the infamous spear tackle on Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll in the opening minutes of the first test. That moment certainly left a sour taste for many, in terms of what might have been had O'Driscoll remained on the field. But there were no doubts about New Zealand's superiority in the second test in Wellington, where a Carter masterclass went down in history and cemented his status at the top of the world game at the young age of 23.
In an interview with Sky Sports' Rugby Retro in 2020, Carter looked back on a performance that makes him very proud to this day.
The final whistle went and we were all ecstatic, we'd just won a Lions series and I was so proud of the team. Little did I realise the impact I had on that game.
Because it was only my third year playing, I was a bit naïve to how big a Lions series was and while people were starting to recognise me around New Zealand, all of a sudden it became a bit more from different parts of the world, 'OK who is this Dan Carter guy?' It almost felt like I put my name on the international rugby stage after that series.
You're always striving for the perfect game. For me, that was probably the closest I got in my 112 Test matches for the All Blacks. You'll never say that you've played the perfect game…but that was as close as I got.
There were many more man of the match and trophy-winning performances to follow in Carter's career, both at club and international level. But very few can compare to what he did to the Lions that night in Wellington.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) February 20, 2021
— Bryan Habana (@BryanHabana) February 20, 2021
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) February 20, 2021