Southbridge fizzing over possible Carter return

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:02 12/07/2013
Dan Carter
Fairfax NZ
CLUB RETURN: Rumours are abound that Dan Carter may return to club rugby during his sabbatical.

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Southbridge first five-eighths Shannon Donald jokes that if Dan Carter comes back to the club next year, the 95-test veteran may have to play second-five or even come off the bench.

"He's played 12 for the All Blacks, he can play 12 for Southbridge too," Donald laughed.

Carter is understood to be taking up the sabbatical clause in his New Zealand Rugby Union contract next year, but instead of hiring himself out to the highest international bidder, he could stay at home with wife Honor and baby boy Marco James. And, curiously, he could play rugby for his club, Southbridge.

On Twitter yesterday, Carter said he has yet to make any plans around his sabbatical and would do so after the current Super Rugby season. He tweeted: "Got to laugh at the media speculation sometimes."

However, a source close to the Carters did confirm "one of the options" was for Carter to play for Southbridge.

While it is understood he would not play a full season, he would play multiple games which would see him achieve a long-held goal of playing a home senior game for the Ellesmere club he first played for as a 5-year-old.

In 2009, he made his senior debut for the club in a 34-13 win over Hornby at Hornby.

"He kicked pretty poorly that day," a cheeky Donald said. "I might have to pull rank on him and keep the goal-kicking duties."

Donald watched that game in 2009, along with a couple of thousand others, and is now the Southbridge senior skipper.

He led his side to the Canterbury Combined Country title last month and the 23-year-old is a member of the Canterbury Country rep-team.

He's also a left-footer with plenty of ability making comparisons to Southbridge's favourite son commonplace.

"But he's bigger than me," the 87kg Donald said.

"So he'd be better at 12, I don't think the coaches would want me running at defenders all day."

Jokes aside, Donald and everyone else at Southbridge is fizzing about the idea of Carter in blue and white hoops again.

"I don't think anything's been sorted, but how good would it be? He's a good club man and he's always welcome back."

Carter's potential Southbridge team-mates are farmers, farm assistants, students, potato stackers and builders - many in Christchurch.

A handful of Carter appearances would no doubt help the club, too. One club member joked Carter's father Neville, the club's bar manager, would need to hire more staff should Southbridge's shining light appear too often.

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Even if Carter does feature at Southbridge next season, he could still take up a lucrative, short-term contract somewhere like Japan.

Current Japan coach and former Wallabies mentor Eddie Jones told The Press earlier this year Carter could command upward of $1m a season Japan's Top League.

- The Press

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