All Blacks great Dan Carter has shared some surprising details about his recent return to New Zealand soil including a massive pay-cut, an embarrassing quiz fail and Crusaders coach Scott Robertson's reaction to his controversial role with the Blues in Super Rugby.
Carter, 38, bowed out of international rugby after leading the All Blacks to victory at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the three-time World Rugby Player of the Year then spent three seasons in Paris with Racing 92 before joining the Kobelco Steelers in Japan in 2018.
However, the global Covid-19 pandemic put an early end to domestic rugby in Japan in 2020 and Carter decided to return to New Zealand to take up a role with the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
The new job shocked many on both sides of the fiercely parochial border between the Blues and Crusaders, a team Carter played 13 seasons for and led to three titles, including himself.
"It took a bit of convincing to be honest because I'm a Cantabrian through and through, and a staunch Crusader. But being able to do what I love again, and to be able to go home to my family each night was very attractive to me," Carter explained during a wide-ranging interview for 66 Magazine.
It took a similar amount of convincing to maintain good relations with former teammate and current Crusaders coach Scott Robertson ahead of the move.
"I told him that Leon [MacDonald] has talked me into helping out the Blues. He's like 'WHAT!?' I then explained the reasons why and he said, 'I totally understand'."
Signed to a coaching support role with the Blues, at one point it appeared like Carter would provide further shock to rugby fans by taking the field for the side - he was named in the squad of 23 for the round six clash against the Hurricanes - but a calf injury ruled him out ahead of game day and he failed to recover before the season's conclusion.
"It wasn't about me getting on the pitch. It was about helping the team grow and sharing my experience with the younger guys and the leadership group. I can't help myself though: I missed rugby."
This hunger to play was evident when asked if he'd play for free.
"Yes. I almost am right now."
Carter is possibly referring to his three appearances for his boyhood club side Southbridge, which successfully defended its Ellesmere senior competition title with the superstar on board.
"I thought I could just sneak down there, put on the blue and white hoops for Southbridge and get through a game. I didn't mind that there was added attention around that game because it does amazing things for community rugby.
"I'm probably the lowest played professional rugby player in New Zealand right now. It's not about the money though. It's more about being able to enjoy being part of a team, enjoying the competitiveness and basically my love for the game."
However, Carter's love for the game doesn't appear to extend to personal statistics. He confessed to getting a question about his own career wrong at a recent school quiz night.
Asked if he had scored more penalties or conversions amongst his 1598 career test match points, Carter was stumped.
"I didn't know the answer. In my defence, it was pretty close."
For those with a passion for the numbers, it was indeed close. Carter scored 293 conversions and 281 penalties as part of his storied All Blacks career.