A mystery virus, which eight doctors couldn’t positively identify, laid Carr low at the start of last year, and he never found the mojo that saw him make his Springbok debut against Italy in Padova in November 2014.
After an incredible year, Carr lost that magical touch in 2015, and he puts it down to that virus. “I’m not making excuses, but compared to my 2014 season, last year wasn’t my standard. I was really disappointed in that, so I’m feeling stronger and hungrier. The desire is there,” the classy number eight said at Newlands on Thursday.
“I lost all my fitness as I did some before that day, which was the first day of pre-season. I lost a lot of weight, and it was like Ramadaan for me – just at the beginning of the year.
“I had to play catch-up. I was on the bench for the first three games and wasn’t fit, and I had to start the fourth. Then I didn’t perform the way I wanted, and it was up and down after that with the Springboks coming in and out of the team. So, last year was something I just want to forget about and focus on this year.”
But that’s all in the past, and a new era under Robbie Fleck will begin in two weeks time when the Bulls come to Newlands for the Super Rugby opener. Fleck has been making all the right noises of playing a more attacking style of rugby, which should suit the creative Carr.
But the 24-year-old has been around long enough not to get ahead of himself, as the Stormers will need to do their talking on the field, starting with the Jaguares in their final pre-season game on Saturday at Newlands (4pm kickoff). Carr will look to set the example, and has found Fleck to be refreshing as a head coach.
“I obviously feel good about it. Fleckie approached me this morning! No, in the week already, saying I’m going to lead the side. It’s nothing new to me. I picked up a lot of experience last year (when he led Western Province during the Currie Cup), learnt a lot, and hope to take it forward this weekend,” he said.
“Look, it’s basically the same system compared to what Allister (Coetzee) had. But with Fleckie, you can approach him anytime and chat about anything – whether it’s newly-wedded wife and things like that!
“It’s a really relaxed environment, but when you step on to the field, you’ve got to have a ‘dog attitude’. He’s teaching us to be more modest – if you see an opposition player in the tunnel, you’ve got to say hello. But once you’re on the field, that’s over. That’s our culture this year.”
And how’s married life treating him? “It’s actually a bit of mixed emotions because when you want to stay longer with the boys, you realise ‘S**t, I have a wife that I need to go back to’! But it’s all good. I wouldn’t say that I’m in a better space, because I always have been. It’s just the performances which haven’t been up to my standard (last year),” Carr noted.
“But definitely with (wife) Aa’eesha on my side, it’s going to go well this year.”
Original source: Fresh start for husband Carr