How Dan Carter almost started his playing career in Ireland

Jared Wright
New Zealand's Dan Carter applauds the fans after the All Blacks Rugby World Cup victory in 2015

New Zealand's Dan Carter applauds the fans after the All Blacks Rugby World Cup victory in 2015.

Dan Carter is one of the greatest All Blacks, but the legendary fly-half almost had an incredibly different career path to the one that saw him win two Rugby World Cups.

The three-time World Rugby Player of the Year started his career with Canterbury in 2002 before making his Super Rugby debut a year later.

He would make his Test bow for the All Blacks in 2003 and went on to win two World Cups, a British and Irish Lions Series and nine Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship titles.

However, it has now been revealed that Carter could have started his career in Ireland and potentially even played for the men in green.

Dan Carter’s potential move to Ireland

Brent Pope, a New Zealand-born rugby analyst and broadcaster, revealed that he was scouting for a goal-kicking number 10 for St. Mary’s College RFC.

Pope told the story of how he almost lured Carter away to Ireland before he linked up with Canterbury.

“I have the guy just for you; it’s Dan Carter,” Pope told Off The Ball Sport, recounting how a connection told him about the promising Christchurch Boys fly-half.

“So I went along and watched him play (for a high school team) as a replacement that day when he played in the centres.

“I talked to both of them (his coaches), and they said, ‘Yeah, he’s the player, he is young, he is raw, he is talented and he can play in the centres.”

The coach reassured Pope that Carter could play fly-half and that’s when he went about recruiting the youngster.

“So I rang Dan and asked if he would be interested in having a season in Ireland, he said ‘I’d love that.’

“I rang the parents, and this was all set up for Dan to come over and play for St Mary’s; they were delighted, so it got that far.

“So, for all sense and purposes, he was coming over.”

Steve Hansen’s intervention

Pope says that the move fell through when future All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen got hold of Carter.

“Steve Hansen had just finished up in Wales… so he was coming back, and he gave Dan a call and said, ‘Dan, I want you involved in the Canterbury Crusaders academy,” he explained.

“So, I got talking to Dan again, and I said ‘Look, Dan, my advice would be if that’s your way into Crusaders rugby, then take it.”

Pope added: “Big mistake, what could have been!”

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