Dan Carter has revealed he was unable to train properly for three weeks leading up to Sunday's European Champions Cup final and admitted that his decision to gamble on the injury had backfired.
The All Blacks' World Cup-winning fly-half had to retire from the contest just two minutes into the second-half after making almost no impact in the contest.The 34-year-old had been unable to take any goal kicks and his game was riddled with uncharacteristic errors.
Carter, who had struggled with the injury during the semi-final victory over Leicester Tigers two weeks earlier, had been left to make a call on his fitness during the warm-up in Lyon.It proved to be a brave but ultimately wrong call by the highest points-scorer in Test rugby (1,598 from 112 matches).
"I hadn't trained with the team a lot in the past three weeks," Carter said. "I was able to run freely in the warm-up. It was just before half-time that it really started to tighten up. I made the sensible option I was of no help to the team at that stage, hence I decided to come off."
Of the decision to play, he said: "We left it until the last minute, just do the warm-up and then see how it went, it wasn't getting any worse during the warm-up and that gave me confidence to get out there. And throughout the first 30 minutes it wasn't getting any worse.
"It was a big game and you want to give yourself every opportunity to play ... to play in a final means a lot, for myself and this team. I was confident I could play and that's why I started, but it unfortunately didn't last as long as I would have liked."
Carter, who expects his injury will require only two weeks of rehabilitation, admitted that Saracens had been worthy victors and he highlighted the impact of his opposite number, the England fly-half Owen Farrell.
"Saracens put us under a lot of pressure and we weren't able to get our game going," Carter added."They took away our time and space, not helped by the greasy conditions.
"We had high hopes going into the game, the team has been playing well in the competition, but we met our match in Saracens tonight, they really outplayed us.
"We thought that if we could stay close to them on the scoresheet we could give ourselves a chance, but when Owen got those penalties at the end, we realised the game was slipping away from us.
"He played well. Saracens have had a tough four years in the European Cup and after getting so close over three, four years, they deserve it tonight and he led the way for them.
"Strategically, Farrell put them at the right end of the field and kicked those goals which plays an important part of finals footy."