Rugby: Dan Carter makes successful return to rugby with Kobelco Steelers after neck surgery

All Blacks star Dan Carter was pleased to be back on the rugby field, after leading Kobelco Steelers to victory in his first game in more than a year. 

Carter had not played since December 2018, after leading Kobelco to the title last season in a MVP performance and undergoing neck surgery last April.

He went under the knife for a cervical spine problem, which was discovered during a medical exam with French club Racing 92.

Carter was expected to rejoin the Paris-based side on a NZ$49,000-per-month contract,  after South African Patrick Lambie retired, but the injury meant he was unable to play.

After spending weeks in a neck brace, the 38-year-old made a successful recovery and finally returned to the field on Sunday (NZ time).

Carter, who was recently voted World Rugby's Player of the Decade, contributed 18 points - a try, five conversions and a penalty goal - in the win. 

"I got through 65 minutes in my first competitive game in over 12 months," Carter said in a video message on his social media accounts.
"I was nervous, to be honest. Heading to the game on the bus, I was thinking 'why am I still playing?', but when the game started, I remembered why I love this game so much.

"The neck feels good, the head's still on the shoulders, which is a bonus." 

New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick marked his Steelers debut with a try after the full-time siren.

Meanwhile, former All Blacks coach Sir Steve Hansen got off to a losing start as Toyota Verblitz director of rugby, with his side falling to Yamaha Jubilo 31-29.