Wellington (AFP)

All Blacks legend Dan Carter is back in the country: the former best player in the world will compete with the Auckland Blues in the championship set up in New Zealand to replace Super Rugby, interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"For me, it's a chance to mentor young players and serve New Zealand rugby," said 38-year-old former All Blacks opener who joined the Blues as a joker on Thursday. medical.

"The GOAT (best player of all time in English, editor's note) is back!", Ecstatic his former teammate Aaron Smith.

Dan Carter, two-time World Cup winner (2011, 2015) and voted three-time best player in the world (2005, 2012 and 2015), left the Kobelco Steelers in April after the Japan Championship was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. He had not specified whether or not he intended to pursue his career.

He has not played in New Zealand since his international retirement at the end of 2015. Former player of the Canterbury Crusaders, in which he played for 13 years, he gleaned three Super Rugby titles and still holds the record for the number of points scored in this competition with a total of 1,708.

- Breath of fresh air -

Super Rugby has been shutdown since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Carter's return to his native country comes a week before the launch of Super Rugby Aotearoa, a substitution competition that will bring together the five New Zealand franchises from the championship of the provinces of the southern hemisphere.

It will start on June 13 and must last until August 16. The Blues will compete June 14 against the Hurricanes.

Carter's return is a breath of fresh air for the New Zealand Federation (NZRU) which lost 7.4 million New Zealand dollars last year (just over 4 million euros) and was planning for late April a 70% drop in turnover for this year.

In this constrained context, Carter, recruited as a medical joker following the injury to rear Stephen Perofeta, will receive 1,800 New Zealand dollars (1,030 EUR) per week.

"He is absolutely not coming back for the money, he will not get rich," said Blues head coach Leon MacDonald.

- "It will take me time" -

According to Radio New Zealand, MacDonald recently sent a message to his players to warn them of Carter's arrival.

"His goal is to give back to the New Zealand Rugby Federation what it has given it by sharing its experience and knowledge of the game with us," explained the coach in this message.

The Auckland Blues, formerly regarded as a breeding ground for the best New Zealand rugby players, are the worst New Zealand team in Super Rugby since 2014. They already have All Blacks opener Beauden Barrett in their workforce, which means that Carter could be N.2 in rotation at the station or troubleshoot in the center or rear.

Dan Carter, author of 1,598 points in 112 selections with the All Blacks - an international record - won the Japanese Top League in December 2018 with Kobe.

He had wanted to end the 2018-19 French Top 14 season with Racing 92, which he had worn from the end of 2015 to the spring of 2018, but, due to a cervical problem, the French National Rugby League had banned him and he returned to Japan.

"I haven't played for several months, so it will take me a while to be able to play again," said Carter, who hasn't played since late February.

© 2020 AFP