Two-time World Cup winner Dan Carter announced a shock Super Rugby comeback with Auckland Blues yesterday at the age of 38, saying he realized during the coronavirus lockdown how much he missed the game.
All Blacks legend Carter, a three-time World Player of the Year, has been a free agent since returning to New Zealand in March from Japan, where a virus-enforced shutdown ended his lucrative stint with Kobe Steelers.
"Two things from the lockdown that I realized was that I really enjoyed spending more time with my family and that I miss rugby," Carter said. "For me it is a chance to mentor some young players and to give back to New Zealand rugby."
The signing comes as New Zealand's Super Rugby teams prepare to start a domestic tournament next week, after Covid-19 halted the southern hemisphere championship in March.
Carter has not played in his homeland since his international retirement in 2015, when he helped the All Blacks seal back-to-back World Cup titles at Twickenham. Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said Carter signed a short-term deal as cover for injured full-back Stephen Perofeta.
As a replacement player, Carter will be on a minimum contract worth NZ$1,800 (HK$8,947) a week, a huge cut from the millions he earned playing club rugby in France and Japan.
As the Blues already have Beauden Barrett, his successor as All Blacks playmaker, Carter may fill the role of supersub off the bench. MacDonald indicated Carter would be behind Barrett and rising star Otare Black in the pecking order.
Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry had no doubt Carter still had the ability to play at the top level, despite his age. "It's marvellous, he'll add a huge amount of experience but he's also been playing very well in Japan," Henry said.