From comic books to history books, Dan Carter can be All Blacks superhero
New Zealand rugby superhero Dan Carter could be inspired by an unusual costume collection when he aims to make World Cup history with the All Blacks on Saturday.
Carter will line up for his 112th and final Test appearance before embarking on a lucrative three-year contract with French club Racing 92.
The superstar fly-half features in a first World Cup final at the culmination of what is his fourth tournament, and New Zealand will hope he can deliver another trademark inspired display.
And it has emerged that Carter is an avid collector of superhero costumes, with The Phantom - a fictional crime-fighter - being his favourite.
"There haven't been many additions over the last couple of years," he said, during New Zealand's eve-of-final press conference at Twickenham.
"My wife made me get rid of them all once our first baby arrived and she realised they were taking up an entire wardrobe. She wanted that room as the nursery, so I had to pass them on to a close friend of mine.
"I know it sounds a bit weird, but Ali Williams (former New Zealand lock) and I, we like to dress up, and so I started a collection of pretty much every superhero costume that there is.
"I am not sure of the original reasoning behind that, but yeah, I've still got a bit of a collection at my mate's house."
New Zealand will become the first nation to claim back-to-back world titles if they beat Australia on Saturday, and Carter is relishing the challenge that awaits.
"It's a big occasion and one that this team and myself are pretty excited about, but it's just a matter of controlling those emotions and not thinking too much about the outcome," he said.
"It's not about me, it is not about guys playing their last game, it is about this 2015 All Blacks side that has been working extremely hard all year. My motivating factor is just wanting to go out there and play the best I possibly can for my team-mates alongside me."
Carter was injured during the 2011 pool stages - New Zealand went on to be crowned world champions without him - and England 2015 was on his mind when he signed a fresh four-year contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union shortly afterwards.
"In the back of my mind, after 2011, the reason I signed a four-year deal was to give myself another chance of a World Cup," he said.
"I was looking that far ahead. It was in the back of my mind - to be here. I just wanted to be a part of this side for this World Cup."
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen paid Carter a glowing tribute, and believes his rugby career has already been defined, whatever happens on Saturday in a first World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia.
Hansen said: "I think a guy who has played over 100 Test matches, like Dan has, his career is not defined by one game. He has already defined his career as one of greatness.
"He has added to the All Black jersey in many, many ways over many, many Test matches.
"It is an important Test match for him and everyone involved this weekend, but it certainly won't define his career. That has already been written in the history books.
"He has enhanced the jersey. When you start out as an All Black, that's one of the greatest things you can do. If you can say 'I've improved this jersey from when I picked it up'. In his position that's a remarkable thing to be able to do if you think about (Grant) Fox, (Andrew) Mehrtens and so forth.
"When those guys left, you said you couldn't replace them, and a little fella from Southbridge (Carter) has done that."
Looking ahead to the final, Hansen added: "The pressure will be on both teams, but I don't think that will inhibit either one of them.
"The Australian team will play to their strengths, and we will play to ours. Given the conditions are okay, I think we will see see some running rugby. Whether that results in a lot of tries depends on how good the defences are.
"We are looking forward to tomorrow immensely. I know, win or lose, we will put in a performance we will be proud of.
"If that's good enough to win, great. If not, we will look at ourselves and ask what we need to do better.
"But we won't be inhibited by the occasion. This group is in a good place and excited about what's coming, and we've got a bit of talent, so if we play well, the result might come our way."