Dan Carter: How COVID-19 could allow players to play beyond 40-year-old
Former All Blacks star Dan Carter believes the coronavirus-enforced break in professional rugby could allow players to continue their careers into their 40s.
Speaking to experienced Ireland playmaker Johnny Sexton in the latest episode of his Facebook series Kickin It, the 38-year-old two-time World Cup-winner said that the extended break, which has halted rugby for almost three months, could pay dividends in lengthening the careers of professional players.
Carter, voted World Rugby’s player of the decade last year, said the break could be viewed as a sabbatical, and if a player had the requisite talent and motivation, this time off could propel certain players beyond the 40-year-old age barrier.
“Using this time off, it’s something you don’t get as a professional rugby player,” Carter told 34-year-old Sexton.
“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] 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.”
Sexton conceded that his skill-based playing style, rather than relying on his physical attributes, could help him extend his career.
“I don’t rely on my pace too much, so that’s not been a factor. But you know all the bits of my game, I think that I can do no matter if I was 30 or 35, 36, 37,” the 2018 World Rugby player of the year said.
Carter recently announced his departure from Top League club Kobe Steelers in Japan after a two-season stint at the Tokyo side.
Although he sits just two years away from entering his 40s, the three-time World Rugby player of the year hasn’t yet indicated his desire to retie from professional rugby.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now