LONDON, November 2 – All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter was named World Player of the Year for the third time Sunday, just a day after inspiring his country to a 34-17 World Cup final victory over Australia.
The 33-year-old, who also won the award in 2005 and 2012, scored 19 points in Saturday’s final and was named man of the match in what was his 112th and last international appearance.
Carter joins his All Blacks captain Richie McCaw as a three-time recipient of the prestigious accolade, whose other previous winners include Thierry Dusautoir, Bryan Habana and Jonny Wilkinson.
New Zealand were also named Team of the Year after becoming the first nation to successfully defend the World Cup.
Australia coach Michael Cheika received the Coach of the Year accolade after transforming the Wallabies in his 12 months at the helm, guiding them to the Rugby Championship title and the World Cup final.
Nehe Milner-Skudder, 24, was named Breakthrough Player of the Year and his fellow All Blacks winger Julian Savea got try of the year for his blockbusting score against France in the quarter-finals.
Carter is the all-time leading points scorer in international rugby with 1,598 points to his name.
He received Sunday’s award ahead of five other nominees -– All Blacks team-mate Savea, Australia flanker Michael Hooper and number eight David Pocock, Wales second-row Alun Wyn Jones and Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw.
Now that his international career is over, Carter will set his sights on a lucrative swansong in France with Paris giants Racing 92.
But his first priority is to get away from the limelight.
“In the coming weeks, we’ll just celebrate the title with the team,” he said.
“I am looking forward to going home to New Zealand to enjoy this moment with my friends, my family, the fans.
“I arrive in France in December, so I have a month to relax. What is beautiful is that I have closed this chapter of my life, and yet I am quite excited by the next, with this new challenge in France with my family.”
Carter, who missed the 2011 World Cup final victory on home ground because of injury, insists that the many personal accolades which have come his way have only been achieved by the support of the All Blacks.
“These personal distinctions, that’s not why we play rugby in the first place,” he said.
“At the same time, it’s fun and I feel proud because I had to work very hard, especially in the last two-three years, between injuries, the criticism from many people who wondered if I could continue. I had to fight.
“If you had told me what my last 24 hours in the boots of an All Black would look like, I would not have believed you. It’s a dream come true.”
Main awards winners:
World Player of the Year – Dan Carter, New Zealand
World Team of the Year – New Zealand
World Coach of the Year – Michael Cheika, Australia
World Women’s Player of the Year – Kendra Cocksedge, New Zealand
World Breakthrough Player of the Year – Nehe Milner-Skudder, New Zealand
World Sevens Player of the Year – Werner Kok, South Africa
World Women’s Sevens Player of the Year – Portia Woodman, New Zealand
World Referee Award – Nigel Owens
World Try of the Year – Julian Savea, New Zealand v France, World Cup quarter-final.