Dan Carter opens up about the doubts that plagued him even when he was at the top of his game.
Kiwi rugby fans already know everything about Dan Carter the rugby player.
Widely regarded as the best five-eighth the world has seen, his legacy as an All Blacks test centurion, three-time World Player of the Year, the highest point-scorer in test history and two-time World Cup winner, is the stuff of legend.
But an intimate documentary, Dan Carter: A Perfect 10, reveals a side to the global superstar previously shielded from view, giving an insight into his private life and featuring interviews with his wife Honor and other family members, along with people closely involved throughout his glittering career.
"When you're playing professional rugby in New Zealand and an All Black a lot of people know a lot about your life," Carter explains.
"I still remember when I started playing for the All Blacks, it felt like [some people] knew more about my career than I did, because they just love rugby so much.
"So I've always made a conscious effort to keep certain areas of my life private. Now that I've finished playing and my life is very different, I thought the timing was right to open up a little bit more."
Directed by Luke Mellows, the film cuts through Carter's previously impenetrable public image as he reflects on his journey from his rural upbringing in the small Canterbury farming town of Southbridge to the heights of his international career and recent stints playing in France and Japan.
The cameras also capture the 37-year-old relaxing during a lengthy off-season in New Zealand over the last 10 months, showing glimpses of Carter with his two young boys, Marco and Fox. The project also covers him dealing with news that a troublesome neck injury would require surgery before he returns to play a second season in Japan with the Kobelco Steelers next January.
"When I got asked to do a film about my life and my career, my natural response was 'No,'" he says.
"But then I thought it would be a nice memento for my children to learn about my career and what I was able to achieve and also the setbacks that I had throughout my life, so I agreed to do it.
"I can't wait for people to see it now. To share a little bit about my daily life, taking the boys to school, which I do most days, was something a little bit different and hopefully the people that watch the film will enjoy that little insight."
What viewers will find most surprising however is how the film confirms Carter's status as a mere mortal.
Revered for his ice-cool on-field demeanour and computer-like ability to calculate and take the right options, the full extent of his private mental and physical struggles and the huge effort required to overcome and bounce back from major disappointments and injuries are revealed.
As former All Blacks coach and long-time mentor Wayne Smith observes of the public's perception of Carter: "People look at Daniel and they see class and they see talent but I don't think they always see the hard work that goes in behind the scenes."
Among the most trying times of his career are the dark days when he remained in camp after suffering an abductor injury that ruled him out of the 2011 World Cup on home soil. Despite putting on a brave face and doing his best to help support teammates, Carter admits returning to his room each day at the team hotel a shattered man.
The ensuing years saw him navigate more uncharted territory as his form and fitness fluctuated and for the first time his place in the All Blacks came under question.
Plagued by self-doubt and with thoughts of retirement swirling in his mind, he focused on rebuilding his body before returning to his best and steering the side to World Cup glory in his last test outing in the 2015 tournament final.
"To play as well as I did in such defining moments in that game, it felt like the injuries and setbacks happened for a reason and that was to have that success in my last game in the black jersey," he says.
"It was just such an incredible way to finish and something that I'll be forever proud of."
Carter hopes the film reveals a greater depth to his personality than he has previously been credited with, and proves that even for a player of his stature, nothing came easy.
"That was a really important point – I'm not robotic and I'm just like everyone else," he says.
"I have my doubts. I've had a lot of lapses in confidence. When you are set back with so many serious injuries at certain times, it really takes its toll mentally and that's probably been the most challenging part of my career.
"But I think the movie showcases that I handled those reasonably well and more importantly I had amazing people around me to help me build my confidence back up again and get that mental side of my game back.
"And because I was able to do that I was able to finish on such a high."
Dan Carter: A Perfect 10 opens in cinemas nationwide on August 29