Paris - Dan Carter said lining up against
Toulon and "good mate" Ma'a Nonu in the European Champions Cup will
The Racing 92 flyhalf will make his debut
in the competition at home to reigning champions Toulon on Sunday and the New
Zealand legend said this was one of the reasons he chose to end his
international career and head to Europe.
"When you think of European rugby,
there's the great competitions with a lot of history like the (French) Top 14,
the (English) Premiership, but the ultimate level is the European
Championship," said the 34-year-old, who expects people to be sitting up
and taking notice back home.
"I can see a few of the rugby
supporters back home starting to take an interest once you get to the playoffs.
"I've watched a few European
championship games and the finals, the playoff games, just to see the crowds
that they get and the importance and just the hype around those games -- that's
something pretty special.
"So when I was looking for a club in
Europe, I wanted a strong club that would give me a chance to play in that
competition because as a player you want to be playing in the best competitions
and that's definitely one of them."
Carter will come up against the man who
spent much of the last decade in an All Black jersey playing on his outside
But Carter says facing up to his fellow
cap-centenarian will be old hat.
"I haven't even thought about it to be
honest, that I'll be lining up against one of my good mates," he added.
"I guess it's nothing new for me,
we've played against each other at Super Rugby level for the last 12-13 years.
We've matched up against each other in Crusader-Hurricanes games, so it's
nothing new - I always enjoy playing against my good mates, it'll be good
While Carter settled straight in at Racing
and has been a huge success, Nonu took a little more time on the south coast
and even complained a couple of months ago that his team don't throw the ball
"It's not easy to make that transition
and the class of the player has come out and he's shown what hes capable of the
last three months playing at Toulon," said Carter.
"He's been fantastic, he's been one of
their best players, so I'm not too sure what all the talk early was. He's found
his feet and is obviously a lot more comfortable in that team now and he's
showing why he's one of the best players in the world."
And Carter says the halfback position he
plays, dictating the game plan, made it easier for him to adapt to the more
forward and kick-oriented style in the northern hemisphere than centre Nonu.
"There's definitely challenges, it's
not going to be exactly as we had at home. He (Nonu) is obviously in a slightly
different position where I'm directing play and can choose to kick the ball or
pass, whereas he's not in that position at one wider where he doesn’t have that
"So I can understand his frustration.
I'm lucky enough to have experienced roughly what to expect here six years ago
(during a brief stint with Perpignan) so it's not about coming here to try to
change things to the way we did it back home in New Zealand, it's more about
just trying to fit in the best way possible to the way that things are done
with your club.
"That's probably why he had those
frustrations early on, but he's adapted now."