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'Everybody talks about the big return of the star... but he's a 37-year-old taking the place of a young Frenchman'

By Online Editors
Dan Carter. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

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Racing has strenuously rebuffed criticism within France about their re-signing of Dan Carter, who is expected to make his comeback debut for the club in their March 23 home Top 14 game against Bordeaux.

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The former All Black, due to check-in at the Racing training ground between March 8 and 15, generated many headlines when it was announced he would be returning to the Parisian club on a short-term deal as a medical joker replacement for the retired Pat Lambie.

However, the fanfare surrounding his return from Japan wasn’t universally acclaimed. Carcassonne coach Christian Labit led the chorus of disapproval, making some very tough remarks that have now been challenged by joint Racing boss Laurent Labit.

“Everybody talks about the big return of the star whereas it’s a guy of 37 years old who will take the place of a young Frenchman,” said the Carcassonne coach.

“I take offence to those who boast of singing these men and who advertise that it is the messiah who arrives. I would have preferred, if we are Racing, that we take the small number 10 and prepare it, but we prefer to be reassured by going looking for Carter. It annoys me.”

(Continue reading below…)

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Racing’s Labit hit back at his namesake’s criticism, telling Midi Olympique: “In French rugby, everyone gives advice to everyone but does not apply to himself.

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“Frankly, when I see Carcassonne, who are 10th in Pro D2, I wonder… Karena Wihongi, whom I know well, is 40 years old and Josh Valentine, their Australian scrum-half, is 36 years old.

“To play in 10th place of Pro D2, I think that Christian Labit would do just as well with French players.”

Carter’s arrival in Paris will be perfectly timed for his inclusion in Racing’s push for Champions Cup glory as their quarter-final at home to Toulouse is scheduled for March 31.

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