WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Prolific scorer Daniel Carter says goalkickers at the Rugby World Cup have no excuses if a new ball or unfamiliar weather conditions chip away at their success rates.
Carter, who has a world record 1,250 points in test matches, admitted there were challenges for place kickers in New Zealand conditions and that a new type of ball designed for the World Cup was hard to master.
But while he might have small advantages — being more familiar with the conditions and having had the new ball to practice with for about two weeks before the World Cup — he said there were no problems for kickers that time on the practice field couldn't solve.
The World Cup is being played in New Zealand's spring, one of its most volatile and certainly its most windy season. Many goalkickers have struggled to maintain their usual success rates in often windy conditions, in stadiums which are more exposed to the elements than they are used to.
"I guess the conditions can vary quite a lot in New Zealand depending on where you are," he said. "In Wellington it can prove fairly difficult with he windy conditions at times.
"A lot of the stadiums overseas are such huge stadiums that it is quite tough for things like wind to get in and be an effect. But that's something you have to adjust to as a kicker. You can't use it as an excuse."
He said the goalkickers were allowed one session before each match at the stadium "to sort of fine-tune things."
"It can be challenging at times but it's just something you've got to adapt to."
Weather didn't come into play when regular sharpshooter Jonny Wilkinson missed several attempts in England's narrow opening win over Argentina under a roof at the new Dunedin stadium. The new ball was a factor there.
Carter admitted he had been frustrated at times in adapting to the new Gilbert-brand ball being used exclusively at the World Cup. Again, he said, the only answer was long hours on the training field to learn its foibles and to perfect technique.
"It doesn't have as much give so if you don't quite strike it right it doesn't fly as straight as you'd like it to at times," Carter said. "But once again it's the same for every kicker and it's just a matter of continuing to work hard on the practice pitch to make sure you're fine-tuning your routine and your rhythm, to make sure it's well intact because if you strike it well then it goes straight."
Frustrating? "It can be at times. Obviously, when you play with a certain ball you get used to it. To have a new one for such an important tournament can be frustrating early on but it's just a matter of getting that and working hard on the practice pitch."