4 Jun 2020

Get Carter: Blues unveil ABs centurion

6:21 pm on 4 June 2020

A sight Blues fans could scarcely believe.

Five world rugby player of the year awards between them - Dan Carter and Beauden Barrett kicking it together at Blues training.

After initial reports on Wednesday night sent the rugby world into spin, the two-time World Cup winner trained with his new team for the first time on Thursday.

Canterbury-born and as red and black as they come, Carter admitted pulling on his new colours for the first time was a interesting experience.

"Yeah, it took a while to sort of put it on.

"But once I was out there training, just loved being out there again and it kinda reminded me exactly what I was missing over the last three months."

For the Blues, the surprise signing was a right place, right time scenario.

Back in Auckland after the Covid-19 pandemic ended his time with Japanese club Kobe, Carter was a free agent.

Something Blues coach and former All Blacks and Crusaders team-mate Leon MacDonald knew only too well when utility back Stephen Perofeta suffered a broken foot at training.

"I think I got the timing right. I got him when he was maybe coming out of lockdown and not quite thinking straight.

"He's a man of his word so he couldn't go back on it, so I think I hit the jackpot there."

It's not a jackpot MacDonald could cash in right away.

While Carter didn't look 38-years-old and admitted he was feeling fit, he was well aware he had only played six games in the last 18 months.

MacDonald said fans shouldn't expect to see Carter on the field in the early rounds of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

"We're three weeks into building up our progression into contact and he's day one and you know he had to sort of warm up the old hammys.

"We're going to take our time to make sure we look after Dan, we need to progress him safely."

Dan Carter during a Blues Super Rugby training session as rugby training resumes after the Covid 19 lockdown. Alexandra Park, Auckland, New Zealand. 4 June 2020. © Copyright Image: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd

Outside of that, Carter's primary role over the next month would be as an off-field leader.

Mentoring the Blues young players was also a big part of what lured him to join the franchise.

Sir Graham Henry, the former All Blacks and Blues coach, said the signing was a massive coup for the team.

"It's marvellous. He'll add a huge amount of experience obviously but he's also been playing very well.

"He's been playing in Japan up to a few months ago and, according to his coach, Wayne Smith he was outstanding, even at 38.

"I think it's very special."

Carter thought the same.

He also had the blessing of one of those he held dearest.

"One of my son's realised that I'd finished playing in Japan and he was absolutely over the moon that I was back home for good.

"He was asking if I'm retiring and I said 'I'm not too sure, I haven't really thought too much about it'.

"He was like, 'well why don't you go play for the Blues but you're only allowed to play home games."

With everything coming together so quickly, the 38-year-old wasn't even speculating what lay beyond this short-term deal.

But, looking at Carter, it was impossible to rule out him continuing in some form.

And with dad Neville playing until the age of 40, there would be no lack of motivation either.