Former All Blacks speedster Joe Rokocoko has described it as bizarre seeing his ex-international teammate Dan Carter in Blues colours.

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The Auckland franchise captured the signature of the 38-year-old playmaker earlier this month as injury over for Stephen Perofeta, drawing worldwide attention given his history and strong affiliation with the Crusaders.

During his time in Christchurch, Carter made 141 appearances for the Crusaders between 2003 and 2015, winning three titles during that span.

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A born and bred Cantabrian, the three-time World Rugby Player of the Year’s services were sought by Blues head coach – and former Crusaders star – Leon MacDonald after Carter’s tenure at the Kobelco Steelers in Japan came to an abrupt halt due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to Sport24, Rokocoko said it was strange watching his former All Blacks teammate pull on a Blues jersey for the first time considering the historic rivalry between the Auckland and Canterbury regions, which extends to Super Rugby level.

“When the news was confirmed, I felt happy and weird at the same time. If you are a real die-hard Blues or Crusaders fan or former player, his move to Auckland was just a no-no,” the 68-test wing said.

“I saw him putting on his Blues training kit for the first time, and I was laughing to myself because he looked so uncomfortable.

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“He used to dominate in that red jumper so it looked wrong for him to be in blue.

“But it just shows the person that he is. He has put all that aside and sees the bigger picture at the Blues by developing and mentoring the younger players.”

“I was lucky enough to have played alongside and against him. There is no doubt he is world-class and will go down as one of our greats.”

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After having played 96 times for the Blues himself and winning a Super 12 championship with the club in 2003, Rokocoko left New Zealand to move to France in 2011, where he resumed his playing career with Bayonne and Racing 92, where he again played alongside Carter.

It’s in Paris where he remains after retiring from professional rugby last year, although he has been watching the opening matches of Super Rugby Aotearoa from the French capital.

“It’s been a while since I have been so excited to watch live games,” Rokocoko told Sport24.

“Pre-lockdown, I used to hold off and wait for the highlights because there was too much rugby but now Aotearoa is exciting.

“It’s a short window with local derbies because of COVID-19. It doesn’t get more intense than 10 weeks of New Zealand derbies.

“In terms of who I will support in the competition, it will always be the Blues but it’s so hard to put a finger on who is going to win the domestic tournament because all five franchises are good teams.”

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