Rugby World Cup winner and New Zealand legend Dan Carter has revealed how he came close to signing for the NFL’s New England Patriots in 2013.
Carter, who lifted his second Webb Ellis Cup with the All Blacks last month, has revealed in his new autobiography that he considered leaving rugby union when he paid a visit to the Patriots during an extended break from the game.
The fly-half revealed that he was in Boston trying to rediscover his love of rugby, but only injury prevented him from trying out for Bill Belichick’s team.
“It was the start of my second sabbatical in late 2013, and I was determined to get a long way from rugby, to try to rekindle my love for the game,” Carter wrote, in an extract published by the Telegraph.
“I was with a friend, Luke Lloyd Davies. He is a sports agent and knew I was a fan of the NFL, so he had arranged for the pair of us to tour the New England Patriots’ facilities.
“We walked into reception where they welcomed us by name, as if we were arriving for an appointment. The next thing I knew, a couple of scouts came out, and asked, ‘Where are your boots?’ They thought I was there to try out for the team!
“I was floored, and a little wistful. Part of me would have liked nothing more than to give it a shot but I had just torn my Achilles tendon, and was months away from being able to kick again.
“They looked downcast, as if they had been misinformed about the purpose of the meeting. It was all so surreal.
“If I’m honest, my interest was piqued a little. I don’t think any competitive athlete could walk into an environment like that, be received in that way, and not feel a desire to rise to the challenge. Who knows what I might have done had I not sustained that injury at Twickenham?”
Carter later met Patriots owner Robert Kraft and held further discussions with the team’s scouts, but eventually resisted the temptation of the NFL to sign for French side Racing 92 in December 2014.
“In the end the French contracts were too good to pass up,” Carter added. “The idea of bringing the family to France for a couple of years holds real appeal, too. Above all else, the rugby situation has to be right.”