New Zealand rugby player Dan Carter has announced that he is set to take an extended break from the game.
The out-half, regarded by many as the best in the game, will take a six month sabbatical as he seeks to prolong his playing career. He follows in the footsteps of teammate Richie McCaw who took a sabbatical for the season just passed.
Aged 31 it may seem relatively young to be taking a break from the game but he has now been playing at the top level for eleven years and the physicality of the modern day game must be starting to have an impact. “I love playing rugby and I’m fully committed to the Crusaders and the All Blacks,” said Carter, “but when you play the game full-time at this level it does take a toll on your body.” He added that “I’ve had a few injury niggles over recent years so I’m keen to ensure I do everything I can to recover fully from those and prolong my career.”
Carter will be a loss to both New Zealand and the Canterbury Crusaders. His presence on the field alone puts fear into opposition teams and brings confidence to those around him. He has the great ability to bring players into the game. His running lines and passing creates gaps for others and for himself. His goal-kicking is almost flawless. He is a world-class out-half, probably the best in the world. Having missed out in the World Cup triumph in 2011 he appears to be determined to be in his peak physical shape for the 2015 World Cup.
Carter said that the main aim of this break is to put himself “in the best possible position, both physically and mentally” for the 2015 World Cup. New Zealand now must prepare for the Rugby Championship without Carter. It would be assumed that Waikato Chiefs’ Aaron Cruden will wear the number ten shirt in his absence. It will be the Crusaders who will probably feel his loss more significantly for the 2014 Super 15 season, but the break may do Carter a favour for the future.
First McCaw, now Carter, the question now is will more players follow suit by taking breaks from the professional game. Central contracts allow players to negotiate with unions as opposed to clubs. It will be interesting to see if this is a trend that begins to grow. We have seen the likes of Quade Cooper and Sonny Bill Williams take breaks to pursue professional boxing fights and we have also seen sabbatical’s for big pay cheques playing rugby abroad. Is this something that we may see transfer to other sports?