Dan Carter has joked he'll be ready to star for the All Blacks in yet another Rugby World Cup.
The All Black great recently underwent neck surgery after a cervical spine problem was discovered during a failed medical that halted his return to French club Racing 92.
He's since been recovering back home where he was honoured at investiture ceremony yesterday.
Carter said he still had a long way to go in terms of recovery but joked he could still be ready to feature in a fifth World Cup for New Zealand.
"Still recovering from neck surgery around five weeks ago. It all went well which is pleasing, and I just really want it to heal strongly so hence the reason I still have the neck brace on," Carter told media yesterday.
"The surgeon said three months, [I'm] five weeks into it. I've been talking pretty closely with Sam Cane and how he had to deal with it. He's given me some encouragement."
Carter won the Japanese Top League title and was named MVP during his first season with the Kobe Kobelco Steelers last year.
Former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry recently said that Carter should be considered as back-up for the Rugby World Cup following the knee injury that ruled Damian McKenzie out of the tournament.
"There's been some talk about Dan Carter and I don't think Dan Carter will let you down," said Henry, who led the All Blacks to a World Cup win in 2011. "I know that he played in the final of the Japanese competition and played outstandingly.
Carter said yesterday the recommendation from his former coach gave him a laugh.
"I had a little laugh at that when I heard my name thrown around. I think I can start contact training again in October so I might be right for the semifinal and the final," said Carter.
Carter plans to play out his final season in Japan with the Kobe Kobelco Steelers but remains uncertain whether that will be the end of his playing career.
"That's the initial thought. But obviously my focus now is rehabbing my neck and getting it strong enough, not only returning to play but also later in life as well. I want to play with my kids. I've almost got a 10 month off-season so I may be able to put a bit more juice in the legs, I might play for a couple more years. I just don't know. I don't want to make those decisions just yet."
Carter was part of a number of New Zealand's sporting greats who were celebrated during an investiture ceremony at Government House in Auckland yesterday.
Carter, golfer Lydia Ko, Olympic great Barbara Kendall and America's Cup skipper Glenn Ashby were all honoured for their services in sport by the Governor-General after being named in the New Year and Queen's Birthday honours lists.
Carter, who made his All Blacks debut in 2003 to later lead the national side to consecutive Rugby World Cup triumphs, became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby.
The 112-test veteran described receiving the award as a special moment among his many rugby achievements.
"It's a huge honour to have played for the All Blacks and represent New Zealand for so long," he said after the ceremony. "To be recognised with something like this is really special.
"It's not the reason you play, but now that I've retired from international rugby, to be recognised for something like this is really humbling. It's something my children can grow up and be proud of."