When Salvador Dali visited Perpignan in 1963 he declared the city's railway station "the centre of the universe," saying he always got his best ideas sitting in the waiting room. Leicester can only hope that Dan Carter did not get too many surreally creative ideas sitting in the Crumbie Stand at Welford Road last Saturday. Perpignan confirmed yesterday that the near-perfect All Black No 10 will be starting against the east Midlanders at the Stade Aimé Giral this Sunday.
Not that the Catalans were ever likely to keep Carter on the sidelines for a second weekend, having paid some £614,000 to have his services for a seven-month period – and with the club's future in the Heineken Cup on the line following their 38-27 defeat in the Tigers' lair. Asked whether Carter would be starting against Leicester, Paul Goze, Perpignan's chief executive, said yesterday: "Yes. With us being three matches from the end of the pool stages, we are not masters of our own destiny now. We are going all out to beat Leicester and have no regrets."
Having gleaned just five points from their opening three fixtures, Perpignan lie third in Pool Three, nine points behind Leicester and five adrift of the Ospreys. Their best hope of progress would appear to be as one of the two group runners-up who will make it to the quarter-finals, but Sunday's game has more than the look of a last-chance saloon for the Catalans.
"We are a good team but one which, until now, has never been able to make the last step up," Goze added. "With Carter, we have the possibility of doing that. He can lead us to the French championship, for which we have been waiting for 54 years."
With Carter in tow, Perpignan also have a seven-month window to maximise their marketing potential. Goze, however, maintained: "Dan is here to play rugby. Shop sales are already very good and sponsors want to organise certain things around him. But we don't want him to just be meeting people all week."
Come the weekend Carter will come face to face with a Leicester side in pole position in Pool Three, and determined to stay there after last season's failure to make the quarter-final cut.
The flankers Ross Rennie, of Edinburgh, and Calvisano's Nicola Cattina will appear before a European Rugby Cup disciplinary committee in Dublin tomorrow after perceived misdemeanours in the last round of Heineken Cup matches: Rennie for a dangerous tackle on Wasps wing Paul Sackey, Cattina for punching Gloucester's Alasdair Strokosch.
Number of tries Carter has scored in his club career, in 89 games for Crusaders and Canterbury.Reuse content