Carter reveals Crusaders considered not re-signing him

Rugby's world player of the year, All Black Dan Carter has revealed he almost gave up the sport just a couple of years ago and that the Crusaders considered not re-signing him.

Writing on the U.S. based Players Tribune website Carter said it was his wife Honor who kept in the game.

Two years ago Carter thought his body was telling him it was time to give up.

"I just had to make it through that (2013) season. The New Zealand Rugby Union had granted me a six-month sabbatical, just to get away from the game. It was kind of a reward for the decade I had spent playing for the All-Blacks. I just needed to make it to that point and then give myself some time to evaluate my next step, whatever that may be,'' he said.

"The last time I'd been given a break in 2009, I used it as an opportunity to play rugby in France for six months. This time I knew that I really needed to get away from the sport."

"When I was away from rugby, I can say that I was, well, truly away from rugby. I traveled to places and saw things that I'd missed out on before. I went to Formula 1 in Melbourne, took in The Masters at Augusta and traveled to Coachella in California. I got the opportunity to do quite a few things that a rugby player never gets to do during their career."

"For a few weeks, I didn't think about whether I'd play again. I didn't really think about the sport at all. And that's what I needed.

"As I neared the end of the break, I began really feeling a sense of withdrawal. I'd never had the opportunity to miss rugby before. It had been there for as long as I could remember. But now I'd begun watching games on TV longingly. And at that point I felt a wave a relief. I still wanted this. I knew deep down that I still had good rugby left in me, and I wanted to give it another go."

Upon his return and two weeks before he was scheduled to make his first Test match appearance back he broke his leg.

"After spending six months dedicated to rebuilding myself, I was back where I started. By that point, we were 15 months away from the Rugby World Cup and it was clear that I was at a place where I had neither the health or the form to be part of it.

"For the first time in my life, I began to question my love for this sport. I questioned whether my body could handle it anymore. The critics who had been going on about my age started making more sense to me. All those big plays I'd made during my career seemed like memories now."

"I began wondering what kind of legacy I'd leave behind if I were to announce my retirement right then. I probably could have slipped away from the game, and I don't think anyone would have thought less of me for it."

"So I spent a lot of time that summer pondering my future and what was next. I was fortunate to have a wife who played hockey for New Zealand, and had a deep understanding of my personal feelings as well the psychology of sports. I would tell her that I wanted to retire, that I didn't think I had the talent anymore.

"She was my rock and my sounding board during this time, and despite my arguments, kept encouraging me. If it wasn't for her and my love for the All-Black jersey, I'd probably have long since hung up my cleats (boots)."

Carter said one day he would be feeling good and confident but the next he'd be thinking about how to go about announcing his retirement.

"After going back and forth on it for a few weeks, I made the decision to announce that I would end my career with the All-Blacks after the 2015 World Cup.

"Based on my previous two years, I definitely didn't deserve to make the team. I mean, I had only participated in eight or nine games, and I hadn't even performed particularly well in most of them. Also, it wasn't entirely clear if the coaches wanted me back."

He said by announcing his intention to end his international career after the World Cup, he was trying to motivate himself.

" The first step was fully regaining my confidence in my abilities. After some wavering, my provincial team decided to re-sign me. They played me out of position for most of the season, which was tough because I was trying to prove I could still be a fly-half for the All-Blacks."

"Once the All-Blacks (2015) season started, I made appearances in five games, and my form was okay, but certainly not at the level it had been at the past.

"The doubters got a little more vocal and the chorus of people saying I shouldn't be on the team started to get louder.

"There was a lot of pressure heading into our last game before the World Cup, both for the team and certainly for myself. We were facing Australia in a do-or-die match for the Bledisloe Cup."

"If we didn't win the game, and I was part of the reason why, my odds of making the World Cup roster, which was set to be announced the following week, would probably be shot."

That's not how it unfolded of course.

"In a lot of ways, the journey I'd taken since 2013 to rebuild myself as a rugby player had all led to that point, and something inside of me kind of clicked. We won the match 41-13 and I turned in one of my best international performances.

"I knew that I was back, and the following week I was told I'd be manning the fly-half position when we competed for the World Cup in England."


Radio New Zealand International