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Carter poised to complete shock Super Rugby return with the Blues

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New Zealand's Dan Carter. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

New Zealand's Dan Carter. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

New Zealand's Dan Carter. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Dan Carter could pair up with Beauden Barrett for his New Zealand swansong this month as he nears a return to rugby in his native land.

The 38-year-old Kiwi superstar left his Japanese team, the Kobelco Steelers, earlier this year and is currently unattached.

The news that he is set for a return to the top level with the Auckland Blues emerged via a leaked WhatsApp message from the squad's group, in which head coach Leon MacDonald informed players of the new arrival.

Carter will come in for the Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament, which gets underway on Saturday week, and will be part of a star-studded Blues backline.

Speaking to Johnny Sexton on a Facebook Live chat last week, he said he is beginning to consider playing into his 40s after getting a break during the Covid-19 shutdown.

"Using this time off, it's something you don't get as a professional player," Carter said.

Sabbatical

"Having two or three months, maybe it's going to be much longer, of not having that constant grind, that contact. So it is like a mini-sabbatical.

"I was very fortunate to have a couple through my career, but if it's used wisely the young players that have been playing heavily for the past four or five seasons, it's perfect timing.

"Then you look at the other side of the spectrum, with more experienced players like yourself (Sexton) - you don't get many opportunities like this.

"So, if it's used wisely, and you keep training and as long as your motivation upstairs is still there, I can't see why you can't play longer than potentially you thought you might, with having a break like this.

"Obviously, there is some pretty exciting rugby around the corner over the next couple of years, so I told Maro (Itoje, last week's guest) that I expect him to still be playing when he's 38 years old, like myself. And with you having a break like this, then you can probably push through to the 40s.

"So I'm looking forward to seeing that."

Meanwhile, Connacht have signed up six promising young players on senior contracts for rugby's resumption.

Former Ireland U-20 out-half Conor Dean is one of those who will be part of Andy Friend's plans for the pair of summer interpros along with second-row Niall Murray, flanker Seán Masterson, prop Jordan Duggan, scrum-half Colm Reilly and winger Peter Sullivan who joined the province after impressing for Lansdowne in the Energia All Ireland League.

Irish Independent