Dan Carter insists he is not haunted by New Zealand’s Cardiff meltdown as the All-Blacks return to the Millennium Stadium for the first time since their World Cup defeat to France.
Carter is among eight players who will start against Wales on Saturday that were involved in the World Cup quarter-final exit 13 months ago.
It was a defeat that sent shockwaves through New Zealand rugby but Carter, who is set to win his 57th cap, is confident it won’t play on his team’s mind this weekend.
“Being back in Cardiff doesn’t bring back sore memories or anything like that,” he said.
“Obviously, it was tough last year, but I have some very fond memories of the stadium. It’s good to be back.
“It was tough at the time but the people in New Zealand were supportive. I went on holiday for a month to Europe and parts of the world which weren’t about rugby.
“In that time, I just got a chance to get away from rugby, and by the time January came around I was refreshed and ready for another big season.” New Zealand coach Graham Henry, who enjoyed a three-and-a-half year stint as Wales coach, with tongue firmly in cheek, said: “Of course we’ve got demons here.” But he added: “I have very fond memories of this stadium. It’s the best stadium in the world and it’s just great to play here. We’ll just get on with it.” Back onfield, Carter appears in the mood to wreak more havoc in his penultimate All Blacks appearance before joining wealthy French club Perpignan on a lucrative six-month contract.
“I am really excited about being on tour with the All Blacks – it is a great team and I am very passionate about it,” he added.
“But we know we are facing probably the toughest game of our tour this weekend. We will need to be at the top of our game.
“I rate Wales very highly. They were the best team in the Six Nations this year, and they are playing rugby full of confidence.
“They were unlucky to go down against South Africa a couple of weeks ago – they had their opportunities.
“They have really grown since I first played against them in 2003. A lot of players are still involved, and they’ve got real leadership and experience now.”