He's been playing professional rugby since 2002 but Dan Carter admitted he still had nerves on the team bus as he began his season with Japanese side Kobelco Steelers in the weekend.

Carter, 37, returned from neck surgery to play his first match in a year as the Steel opened the Top League season with a 50-16 over the Canon Eagles.

The match also marked the first for All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick during his Japanese sabbatical, and he managed to cross over for a try.

Carter, who was MVP in his last season for the Steel, shared a video on social media after the win admitting he had nerves before the encounter.

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"First competitive game in over 12 months," he said.

"I was a little bit nervous to be honest. Going into that game on the bus wondering why I'm still playing, full of nerves.

"But when the game started, and even more so now the game has finished, I remember why I love this game so much. Really happy o be back playing again.

"The neck feels good. Head is still on shoulders which is good."