In the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final against Australia, he successfully kicked four penalties, two conversions and a drop goal. Carter, who is of pākehā and Māori descent, and has one older sister, Sarah.

From the age of 5, he played with Southbridge Rugby Club as a half back (scrum half) and would go on to make representative teams for Ellesmere & Canterbury Country.

He was then capped against France in Christchurch, which the All Blacks won 31–23.

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Carter made his provincial debut for Canterbury in 2002, and in 2003 was signed by the Super Rugby side the Crusaders.

Initially playing mainly at second five-eighth Carter reached the final of the Super 12 competition with the Crusaders in 2003, 2004, 20.

He attended Ellesmere College where he played mostly at first five-eighth, and then in his final year he transferred to Christchurch Boys High School to further his chances of making it big in rugby.

Some have said he was a shy and quiet young man who kept grand aspirations to himself.

On 31 January 2009 Carter ruptured his Achilles tendon playing for Perpignan against Stade Francais, but Perpignan still managed to win the Top 14 despite Carter being injured for the remainder of the season.

He recovered in time to play for his home provincial union, Canterbury, in the opening game of the 2009 Air New Zealand Cup.(equaling the record three awards of Richie Mc Caw) and has won four Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, and six Tri-Nations and Rugby Championships with the All Blacks.Carter became injured in 2011 during the 2011 Rugby World Cup but was a key member of the 2015 Rugby World Cup-winning teams, becoming one of only twenty dual Rugby Union World Cup winners.It was announced on 1 October that Carter would captain the All Blacks for the first time against Canada.However, it was later announced that Carter would miss the rest of the 2011 Rugby World Cup after tearing a groin tendon during the final training session before the match against Canada.In the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final against Australia, Carter scored four penalties, converted two tries (with the final one taken with his right boot), and kicked a drop goal that gave the All Blacks the winning moment.