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Last Updated: 02/07/20 6:45am
Dan Carter will make a return to his native Canterbury this weekend for his first rugby game in New Zealand since 2015.
The 38-year-old All Blacks legend, who spent his entire New Zealand professional career playing for the 10-time Super Rugby champion Crusaders, will line out for club side Southbridge as he continues to build up his fitness.
Last month Carter did what many Christchurch-based fans think was treasonable by joining the Blues.
However, the two-time Rugby World Cup winner said he was not match fit enough to return to the field at the time and would need several weeks of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season to get prepared to play, which includes a match in club rugby.
“That’s the plan,” Carter told Newshub. “I’m hopeful to get down there and pull on the blue and white of the Southbridge hoops this weekend.”
Carter grew up in the small rural community of Southbridge, south of Christchurch, and recently raised more than NZ$20,000 (£10,000) for the club by auctioning one of his All Blacks jerseys.
Carter joined the Blues after stints in France and Japan but has not played since February after Japan’s Top League was shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak.
He barely played in the past 18 months after undergoing neck surgery in 2019.
The fly-half’s return this weekend could pave the way for him to make his Blues’ debut against the Crusaders in Christchurch on July 11, live on Sky Sports.
“The last three weeks have been pretty intense training gradually building up my contact and getting my confidence back for playing again, so a bit of club rugby would be good,” he said.
Carter last appeared for Southbridge in 2014.