Parents' gift led to Dan Carter's talent

BY RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2009
LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff.co.nz
DAN THE MAN: Dan Carter missed two penalties but still managed 14 points against England as he took over from Andrew Mehrtens as the All Blacks all-time leading pointscorer, now with 980.

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A habit of mangling his parents' spouting eventually led to Dan Carter surpassing Andrew Mehrtens' mark as the All Blacks' top point-scorer in tests yesterday morning.

Carter kicked four penalties and a conversion to overcome fellow Cantabrian Mehrtens' – a former team-mate – record of 967 points and create a new total of 980 in the 19-6 win over England at Twickenham.

New Zealanders can thank Carter's parents, Neville and Bev, for developing one of world rugby's most deadly goalkickers. Sick of him damaging the family home in Leeston during his attempts to hoof the ball over the house, they gave him a new set of full-sized goal posts for his eighth birthday.

"He used to practise his kicking over the house but broke too many plastic spoutings and things, so we bought the half-acre section next door and put up the posts when he was eight," Neville Carter said. "I got the local engineer to build the steel goal posts and paint them in the blue and white Southbridge colours."

The posts still stand and it is not uncommon for fans to stop and have a gander at the spot where Carter began learning the craft that led him to becoming one of world rugby's deadliest snipers. Some even hop the fence to have a picnic near the posts.

Even as a youngster playing for Southbridge, Carter possessed an uncanny ability to kick long distances and received his share of lessons from his dad, also a left-footer, who was a regular goal kicker for the club's senior team: "But I was a Don Clark-type toe hacker, not a round-the-corner man like Dan is."

And at 27, Carter still has plenty of time to clamp his sights on the world record held by Jonny Wilkinson (1125).

Neville and Bev Carter watched yesterday's test live on TV in the small hours and the former brushed aside the lighthearted protests from his wife to celebrate their son's milestone with a beer.

"I said to Bev `I think I better have a drink here'," Carter senior recalled. "She said `you can't, it's four in the morning'. But I had one anyway. I had a quiet beer, thinking of all that hard work he has done over the years and decided to celebrate in true Kiwi style."

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