Dan Carter: Ten years in his Jockeys

Last updated 05:00 01/09/2013

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Dan Carter scored 20 points in his All Black debut. A year later, near-naked on 16-metre high billboards in Christchurch and Auckland, he could have scored just about anything he wanted.

"I didn't know what I was getting myself into," Carter said. "I remember the photographer trying to make me feel as relaxed as possible. He was ‘OK, stand there, act naturally'. But to act naturally in your underwear was to try and cover up."

Carter is in a hotel suite in Auckland. A plate of pineapple and melon in front of him, neat piles of men's trunks on the bed.

He's reflecting on his 10th year as the face - and body - of Jockey underwear, but it's a campaign that nearly didn't happen.

When the relative unknown from Southbridge, Canterbury, was mooted as the frontman, the Auckland PR company's response went something like: Dan Who?

"We wanted Frank Bunce," recalls Deborah Pead, of Pead PR. "But then we saw the photos!"

Carter says he was "extremely nervous" at that first shoot. "I hadn't done anything like that before, and it was quite challenging, but it's just evolved . . . "

Those 2004 billboards reportedly caused nose-to-tail car accidents. A year later, Carter was back in ab-solute glory, setting records for desk-top downloads of a clip that featured him performing sit-ups.

In 2006, Carter was touted single - for exactly (as per his contract specifications) one week. Then the marketers added the letter "t" and Carter reinvented the singlet.

Neil Cameron, from Christchurch-based ad agency Harvey Cameron, was at Carter's first shoot. Did anyone realise what they were about to create?

"No, no, no. In the world of celebrity [endorsement], you've got to give it to him. He's been absolutely bulletproof . . . he's the most unexpected talent, in so many ways. He's such a good guy, but as a male model, he just lights up in front of a camera."

Over the years, Carter has been put on a plinth to shoot an eye-bulging 3D range, appeared on a billboard in Moscow for a global campaign and teamed up with then girlfriend, Honor Dillon for a Jockey men's and women's combo.

The couple are married now, with a five-month old son, Marco. Any plans for a Baby Jockeys ad?

"No," says Carter. "I'd hate to throw the wee man into the limelight without his consent . . . I think family is important to keep private, especially at a young age."

Carter claims he too, is a private man, even as he laughs and says yes, he's "sitting comfortably" in his latest offering.

"I'm wearing them for the first time today."

Manufacturers claim the new Smart Fabric Performance Underwear's celliant fabric will reflect energy into the body's deep muscles.

"By all accounts, it's going to help with your recovery and things like that," says Carter. "When you're training each day, these little advantages you can get really do help . . . as an athlete, you're always looking for that extra one percent, because that can mean a lot when you're competing."

Sidelined with a calf strain at the time of interviewing, Carter said it was frustrating "having little, niggling injuries. I guess my body's not the same as it was when I was a 21-year-old starting my career.

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"It just means you have to work harder. I still have the motivation to perform at the top level, I just have to be a lot smarter about my recovery and my workload - but I'm enjoying my rugby just as much as when I started."

And the modelling?

"They almost go hand in hand. As long as I can stay fit, I can keep standing there in my underwear."

- Sunday Star Times

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