LE PLESSIS-ROBINSON, FRANCE (AFP) - Dan Carter said he has come to France to emulate the success he achieved with New Zealand and the Crusaders back in his homeland.
The 33-year-old fly-half arrived in France on Friday to join his new club Racing 92 and to renew his association with the French Top 14 championship after a brief stint with Perpignan in 2009, where his team won the league but in which he played only five matches due to a ruptured Achilles tendon.
But after a glory-laden 13 years playing in New Zealand, winning two World Cups, the Super Rugby title four times with Crusaders and nine editions of the Tri-Nations or Rugby Championship, Carter remains as hungry as ever.
Asked why he had chosen Racing, Carter said they matched his personal ambition.
"A number of reasons really: The first one for me was the vision of the club," he said. "The calibre of players, wanting to strive to win competitions.
"After playing for the Crusaders and the All Blacks, which were two very successful teams, I wanted to play for a team that had a strong vision of winning.
"Also the arena that's being built, it's pretty exciting to play in such an amazing arena that's planned for next year - I'm sure the players are pretty excited about that."
Carter comes to the club just weeks after lifting his second World Cup with New Zealand and being named World Player of the Year for the third time. Yet Carter says he feels no extra pressure from his iconic reputation.
"There's always going to be pressure, that's part of the game that I love," he said. "I don't think there's going to be any more pressure playing here after what's happened in my career than before most Test matches.
"As long as I do the preparation; I'm not always going to be perfect, I'll make mistakes. Things are not always going to run perfectly. Luckily I've got some pretty talented players playing alongside me.
"I've just got to try to fit in in the short time frame. My priority is not to try to win games on my own the first time I play but to fit in with the team."
Carter will be in good company, though, as several other former All Blacks will be making their bow in French rugby this season, not least the man who spent the last decade playing on his outside shoulder - Ma'a Nonu.
The inside centre will line up for European champions Toulon this year and Carter knows coming up against his former international team-mate will be special.
"I'm not really looking forward to playing against him because he's a pretty good player," joked Carter, who was well-used to lining up opposite Nonu, who played for the Hurricanes, Blues and Highlanders, in the Super Rugby competition.
"It's not just Kiwis but other internationals. It's a lot of times that you come up against good mates, and from past experience those are the games you don't want to lose.
"Coming up against ex-teammates and friends, there's a bit of rivalry but most weekends you're playing against old team-mates."