Paris life captures Dan Carter

World Rugby Player of Year says he’s feeling at home in City of Light.
Dan Carter is making his mark at the Racing 92 rugby club in the French capital. Picture / AFP
Dan Carter is making his mark at the Racing 92 rugby club in the French capital. Picture / AFP

Dan Carter says he feels settled now in Paris following two months of being an anonymous tourist in the City of Lights.

The 34-year-old World Rugby Player of the Year joined French Top 14 hopefuls Racing 92 after helping New Zealand defend their World Cup crown in October.

And after an initial "crazy" period punctuated by numerous sponsor and PR commitments, Carter says he is now starting to feel at home.

"Paris is a very big international city. I can walk the streets and nobody knows who I am, which is pretty refreshing," said the former Crusaders star, who also spent a short stint in France at Perpignan in 2009.

"There's just so much to do, it's crazy - we get one day off a week and I really enjoy exploring the city. You never do the same thing twice.

"There's so many different things to do, whether it's seeing the amazing cultural things here in Paris. There are some amazing chateaux, castles, some amazing restaurants, a lot of variety for me and my family to enjoy.

"I'm a lot more settled now but definitely the first two months was all about seeing what I could do on my day off, maximising it as much as possible, being a tourist in this city that I'm living in - I really enjoyed it.

"It was amazing but I'm a lot more settled now, feeling like we have our little local restaurants and our favourite markets to go to."

Having several other Kiwis at the club, including former international teammates Joe Rokocoko and Casey Laulala, who also played for the Crusaders, has helped Carter to adapt to his new surroundings.

"To be honest, when I arrived here I didn't know what to expect: a brand new team, new country, new competition; I wasn't sure how well or not I'd fit in," he said.

"It's always easier when you've got familiar faces and good friends at the club to help that transition. There are six New Zealanders here. That's made that transition a lot easier, but it wasn't just them that's made it easier - the coaches, the management and all the other players as well were very welcoming to me here, so it's good to be a part of the team and back playing with a couple of good friends of mine.

"We do a few things together. A lot of the Kiwi guys here are in a similar position to me, with young families, and often the kids will be together and play together.

"Little things like that, when you're so far away from home, it's nice to have your good friends and people that are going through the same thing as you are and able to share those experiences, and we've been able to spend a lot of time with them."

Big-spending Racing have kicked on this season with Carter directing play from half-back, and until a recent blip that saw them lose back-to-back games against title rivals Montpellier and Toulon, they were top of the league.

Carter has also noticed younger players trying to emulate him in training.

"It encourages me to see sometimes when I do skills or drills after (training) and I look across and some of the younger players might be doing something similar," he said.

"To have that effect can only be beneficial to the team. That's not why I'm doing it; I'm doing it to make sure I continue to be the best player I possibly can, but if it rubs off on other players, that's great."

- AFP

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