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Dan Carter has made a surprise return to rugby in his home country New Zealand. Carter has joined up with the Auckland Blues for the New Zealand Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
The 38 year old will link up with fellow fly-half Beauden Barrett. Former Wales and Ireland coach Warren Gatland joked with the media saying “He’s getting a bit old now, 38 or something”. He continued, “For him to be able to come back to New Zealand and lace his boots up, I just think it’s good for the youngsters.”
Carter had neck surgery last year and has not played a game since February. He did say he is unlikely to be match fit for several weeks. He said, “I’ve played six games in the last 18 months, and had three months of no rugby training, no contact … it’s going to be a process getting up to speed.” Current Blues coach Leon McDonald, who played with Carter with New Zealand said, “We’ll take our time and make sure we progress Dan safely,”.
McDonald stated that Carter will likely be used as a utility player. Stating he could play at full back. However, he acknowledged that it will be a while before he gets on the field of play due to fitness. He said, “He’s got a lot of work to get through before he’s considered for selection.
Carter has spent the last two seasons playing for Kobelco Steelers before the coronavirus brought a halt to the league. He spent all of his professional career in New Zealand playing for Crusaders. Howeverm he moved to Racing 93 after the 2015 World Cup. He said, It’s a chance to put the boots on whether I play or not,”. “I have not played for several months so it will be a number of weeks before I will be ready to be considered to play. And then only if my form warrants it. I’m fit but not rugby fit.”
He said it will give him an opportunity to be with his family as well as playing rugby. He said, “I guess this gives me an opportunity to do what I love and to be able to go home at the end of the day and be with my family,” “Being [able to play] in the same city where my kids go to school is a big factor behind me being here today.”
The 10 week competition gets underway on June 13th. It will feature all 5 of New Zealand’s Super Rugby sides.