New Zealand flyhalf Daniel Carter considered playing overseas and spoke to Richie McCaw before deciding to take a six-month sabbatical from rugby to boost his chances of extending his career to the 2015 World Cup.
The 31-year-old twice IRB World Player of the Year, who also plays for the Canterbury Crusaders, will take the break after the November tour of Europe, missing most of next year’s Super Rugby season and June’s Test series against England.
“I have been tossing up whether or not to take an extended break. The timing was right to take a step back from rugby and refresh the body and mind, and get away from the game,” Carter told reporters yesterday.
“Ultimately I would love to be part of 2015 and I think by doing this it gives me a chance to prolong my career,” he added.
Carter, widely considered one of the greatest flyhalves to have played the game, has been struck down by a series of niggly injuries since he suffered an Achilles tear in early 2009.
He tore a muscle in his groin during the 2011 World Cup and missed the All Blacks march to the title, but has also been afflicted by hamstring, calf and ankle injuries.
Carter suffered the Achilles injury while playing for Perpignan on his first sabbatical from the game in New Zealand and said yestedrday he had considered another lucrative stint abroad.
“I did look into that option this time,” Carter added. “The more I thought about it, I realized it wasn’t the best option and taking the time away, and not playing any rugby for six months, will freshen me up.
“I guess the wear and tear of playing professional rugby for the past 11 years takes its toll on your body and the six months away will give me a chance to refresh and work on those niggles,” he said.
He follows the example of McCaw, who took six months off earlier this year and has only played a club match and two Super Rugby playoffs off the bench for the Crusaders.
Carter said he had spoken to McCaw about the “do nothing” option and been influenced by the way the All Blacks captain had come back into camp mentally refreshed.
He said he had made no concrete plans for travel and would make a decision on whether he would play at all for the Crusaders next season closer to the time.
He would not play club rugby for his boyhood club of Southbridge to keep match fit, he said, believing “the old man” (his father) may have started those rumors.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the timing of the break was “perfect” for New Zealand as he continues building the squad for the World Cup title defense in England in 2015.
“For us, it’s not too big a hurdle,” Hansen said. “We’ve got him for the rest of the year so will only miss him for three matches next June. It gives other people an opportunity, but the big positive is that he will get the opportunity to get his body right and will work out mentally what he wants to achieve, and how hungry he is.
“And a hungry Dan Carter is a positive for us,” Hansen added.