We’re unlikely to ever see a farewell tour quite like it.
Daniel Carter’s career ended in triumph, as he helped propel New Zealand to the 2015 Rugby World Cup title.
Injury had robbed the great first five-eighth of the opportunity to participate in the team’s 2011 triumph, but he was not to be denied four years later.
There had been instances in between in which Carter’s form had not been compelling. Where others, such as Aaron Cruden, pressed strong claims for the All Blacks’ No.10 jersey.
But the faith in Carter of head coach Steve Hansen never wavered. When others suggested Carter was a spent force, Hansen said time and again that “Dessie’’ would come good when it counted.
Hansen was right and Carter was able to walk away from the test arena with the praise of the rugby world ringing in his ears.
It’s been strange, six years on, to hear another chorus of that stuff.
To be told that Carter was officially retiring and to see the great and the good line up to congratulate him on a fine career and to wonder aloud where he sits among the greats of the game.
Haven’t we done that already? How many times are we obliged to mark the end of a man’s playing days? Assuming we could have still classified Carter as an active player anyway.
There will be those around the world who potentially rank other five-eighths ahead of Carter. Here in New Zealand he is the absolute benchmark and it’s hard to imagine anyone ever being a more complete pivot than him.
Carter the man and Carter the player were the complete package, beloved and admired by all. You can’t say much better than that.
This time last year the “class is permanent” brigade were out in force, following the great man’s signing by the Blues. We were all being told how he might dominate Super Rugby and potentially make his new team prohibitive favourites for the title.
Only class isn’t permanent. Carter’s place in rugby history will never be erased, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a use-by date.
Carter was 37, turning 38, and coming off neck surgery and the claims made on his behalf last year were absurd.
Was he taking a full part in training? Could he make the 23 this week? How much is everyone learning off him? Would it be weird for the Crusaders to play against him?
We were treated to an endless stream of Dan-related updates, but just one game of footy. For Southbridge, a world away from Super Rugby.
But you don’t judge Carter on that. Nor what he’s done in Japan or whether he did or didn’t light up French club rugby.
The man’s career was over by then and he did well to keep being paid a healthy wage and to maintain the strength of his personal brand. Carter knew the value of social and traditional media and did a great job of keeping himself relevant.
Such are his good looks, charm and rugby intellect that you assume he’ll remain in demand and in the public eye. People love Carter and that won’t change.
But, without wanting to labour the point too much, his real retirement came years ago. And in a fashion befitting a man who’d won every other relevant trophy going.
Sunday’s announcement was all a bit unnecessary.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now