Former All Blacks and Crusaders fly-half Dan Carter has denied that he will make a return to Super Rugby in 2019 to join the Highlanders.
It has been rumoured that the 36-year-old would join the Dunedin-based franchise, who are coached by his good friend and ex-club and international team-mate Aaron Mauger.
First-choice Highlanders pivot Lima Sopoaga left the the 2015 Super Rugby champions to join Premiership outfit Wasps and although the Highlanders have Bryn Gatland and Josh Ioane on their books, there is space for another fly-half in their squad.
That has led to suggestions that Carter could join the men from Dunedin when he has finished the season with Japanese club Kobelco Steelers.
“I’m not sure where that came from,” Carter told Stuff.
“I hadn’t actually thought about it. Hayden Parker, he’s in the same team as me, we were away on camp, and he read something about me going down there and that was the first I’d heard about it.
“I think I’d prefer after the Japanese season to spend a bit of time with my family, rather than play another Super Rugby season.”
Carter was linked with a move to Blues from the Crusaders in 2009 but he turned it down as he said it would be difficult for him to leave the the Christchurch-based franchise.
He finished his Super Rugby career with the Crusaders in 2015 before joining Top 14 outfit Racing 92. And although he spent three seasons at the French club, he has kept a close eye on the Crusaders’ progress in Super Rugby and is delighted that they have won back to back titles.
“What they’ve achieved over the last couple of years has been incredible,” he said.
“They’re doing similar things to the Crusaders of old and they’ve got a similar environment.
“I’m lucky enough to be able to talk to Razor (Crusaders coach Scott Robertson) and the coaching staff there, to see what they’re creating and it’s something very special, powerful and unique.
“It’s not something that’s going to fall over in a year or two or be a one-season wonder, they’re building something strong and powerful.
“I’ve only got admiration for what they’ve achieved over the last couple of years.”