Carter puts 'turbulent times' behind him
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: An upbeat Dan Carter said he has put all this season's distractions behind him.
His sole focus now is to help Racing 92 make the Top 14 play-offs, starting with this weekend's trip to Toulouse.
A high profile drink driving incident, lengthy time off with a groin injury, and dealing with the aftermath of a positive drugs test have all conspired to test the New Zealander's resolve.
Those personal issues combined with the hiatus over his club's aborted merger with Stade Francais have in the All Black legend's words made it "a bizarre season".
"When the season started we were on a bit of a high after last year's success. So if you'd said before about all the things that were going to happen I wouldn't have believed you," the 35-year-old fly-half told a press conference on Wednesday.
"There were a lot of distractions, a lot of setbacks. But one thing through all of this - we've stayed tight as a team, with a wonderful spirit. It goes to show the strength of characters we've got on the team."
The 2011 and 2015 World Cup champion, who lost sponsor Land Rover after being caught drink driving in Paris in February, helped Racing lift the Top 14 championship last season.
But defending their crown has proved a turbulent business, and they take on Toulouse occupying the sixth and final play-off spot.
"It's the biggest game of our season," commented Carter, who was 'definitively' cleared of wrongdoing this month after testing positive for corticosteroids following last season's Top 14 Final.
"Our season depends on the result of this match. We are going to have to do something pretty special to come out with a win and keep our play-off hopes alive."
He says he is happy with his fitness.
"It's been three matches since I came back from injury, I was out for about six weeks in total.
"It takes a few games to get your rhythm and confidence back - I've felt like I've got better each of these three games,
"There have been a few distractions this year but that's all behind me. I'm just looking forward now, the focus is on the play-offs, I want to try and contribute to a huge game on Sunday."
Despite his difficult season Carter told reporters he was settled and content in France.
"I've got a contract until the end of next season, I've got no thoughts about running back to New Zealand.
"I'm more than happy here, I'm really enjoying living in France. The people have been extremely kind to me and my family.
"I no longer feel like a tourist, no longer feel as shy and like a new schoolboy as when I first arrived.
"I love travelling, visiting châteaux and historical landmarks that are older than my country New Zealand.
"I want to make the most of the experience living in this part of the world."
On Racing's prospects of salvaging their season he said: "People have written Racing off.
"I'd love to be able to prove a lot of these people wrong - we are still confident we can still turn things around."