Former World Cup-winning All Black first-five Dan Carter has described his failed Racing 92 deal as a “blessing in disguise” as he inches closer to the end of his illustrious career.
The three-time World Rugby Player of the Year had a three-month contract with Paris-based club Racing 92 fall through after a failed medical exposed a “cervical spine problem”.
He would have earned upwards of NZ$49,000 per month if he had passed the medical.
Carter, who currently plies his trade in Japan with Top League club Kobe Kobelco Steelers, told the New Zealand Herald the problem was a “disc bulge” in his neck, of which is common among rugby players.
French medical authorities were particularly strict in managing player injuries, making a return to French rugby impossible for the 37-year-old, who has been dealing with the injury for a number of seasons now, and may require surgery to fully recover.
While the injury denied him a return to the club where he spent three seasons at and claimed a Top 14 title with in 2016, Carter – who was identified as an injury replacement for former Springboks playmaker Pat Lambie, who was forced into retirement midway through the season due to concussion issues – said it has freed up more time for him to spend with family.
“I would have loved to have gone back to Racing and to have given Europe another crack but I wasn’t cleared to play, so it wasn’t to be,” he said.
“I wasn’t cleared to play, so it’s a blessing in disguise because I get to spend more time back here in New Zealand.
“I don’t have a lot of rugby in me but I’m still loving it and enjoying it, so I guess this long break has helped me to phase into life after rugby.”
After being named the Top League’s MVP in a title-winning debut campaign with the Steelers, Carter is set to return to Japan for another season of action following the World Cup.
“The beauty is that my second year in Japan doesn’t start until after the World Cup.
“The Top League season there has been pushed back because of the World Cup, so I will have plenty of time to spend with my family.
“I thought I would get my body ready for my second season in Japan.”
It is not yet clear whether Carter will look to prolong his 17-year professional career once his time in Japan comes to an end, with retirement looking a likely option after the 2019-20 Top League season.
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