NEW ZEALAND fly-half Daniel Carter ran the gamut of emotions after injury ended his World Cup, from frustration, to anger, to petulance. Now he is just excited about the final against France.
The 29-year-old, one of the best fly-halves to play the game, tore a tendon in his groin while practising kicking before the All Blacks' final pool game against Canada, abruptly ending his third rugby World Cup.
"I was pretty gutted the first few days. I guess anger did creep in a little bit," said Carter, who had surgery on the injury in Melbourne last week.
"I didn't really want anything to do with the World Cup. I wasn't going to go to any games, I sort of dropped my lip a bit.
"Then it kind of hit me after five or six days that the World Cup is here in my home country and I'm going to make the most of it like everyone else and get to the games -- enjoy the atmosphere.
"It's been quite different for me and I've loved every minute of it."
Carter was seen as a vital cog in New Zealand's chances of winning their second Webb Ellis trophy, and his withdrawal temporarily sent the rugby-mad country into deep anxiety over whether they could end their 24-year World Cup drought.
The team, however, stepped up and took on the responsibility of running the game without Carter, something the coaches have noticed.
"This team is playing well because we have a number of players playing well, and to win the World Cup you need all of your top players playing at their best," assistant coach Steve Hansen said.
"You just can't win it with one person, hence we weren't in a state of panic when we lost Dan. As great a player as he is, he wasn't going to win us the World Cup.
"It was everybody on the track, particularly senior players standing up and being the best players they can be."
Carter praised the way in which scrum-half Piri Weepu and fly-half Aaron Cruden, who was brought into the squad when Carter was ruled out and thrust into the starting line-up with Colin Slade's subsequent groin injury, had stepped up.
He admitted, however, that it was nerve-racking for him to sit and watch from the stands where he gives a running commentary to those around him.
"Having to watch the last two games, the weekends are probably the toughest times for me.
"When I'm sitting there watching the game I get extremely nervous," he said. "I get so nervous I'm commentating, having conversations with myself.
"I've been told to shut up a few times, but that's how passionate I am. I just want the boys to win so badly like the rest of us."
Carter said he was looking forward to Sunday's final against Thierry Dusautoir's team.
"It's a very exciting situation that we're in," he said. "They're our arch nemesis. We all know the past that we've had with the French."