Rugby: All Blacks great Dan Carter retires, rules out coaching career

All Blacks great Dan Carter has retired from rugby at the age of 38 and has ruled out a coaching career - at least for the time being.

Carter, who played 112 games for New Zealand, leaves the game as the highest pointscorer in test rugby, with 1598, more than 350 points clear of English rival Jonny Wilkinson. 

Debuting in 2003, he played at four Rugby World Cups, guiding the All Blacks to victory in 2015 and earning Man of the Match honours in the final against Australia, but tearing a groin tendon during their triumphant 2011 campaign on home soil.

Carter was named International Rugby Player of the Year three times (2005, 12, 15), equalling the record held by longtime teammate and skipper Richie McCaw.

He last played professionally in the Japanese Top League and when COVID-19 ended that 2020 season prematurely, he joined the Blues for Super Rugby Aotearoa, without ever quite taking the field.

But after winning titles across the world, including three Super Rugby crowns with the Crusaders, Carter has told the NZ Herald that stint in Auckland convinced him he has nothing left to prove.

"After experiencing rugby in Japan, I thought I could squeeze a few more years out of my body," he tells the Herald. "I was playing rugby and enjoying it, and wasn't sure when I would stop.

"I was coming off contract and I guess the frustrations of not being able to finish the Japanese season and then going to the Blues for a little bit... I loved being part of the team environment, but going through that process made me realise that I play to be the best player out on the field.

"That is my drive and it always has been, and I just didn't have that drive back here in New Zealand. I had nothing to prove and nothing to get my motivation levels up to where they should have been to play against all those young bucks here."

Carter and wife Honor - a former Black Sticks hockey international - are expecting their fourth child, and he understands family must become a priority in the short term.

"When I realised the age my kids are and the amount of work Honor was doing looking after them, while I was away chasing my dream, it made me realise it was time to stop," he tells the Herald.

That realisation will also keep him out of fulltime coaching.

"My mentality is all about winning and if I got into coaching, I would be all in and I would commit to that," Carter says. "I would work around the clock and I know how hard coaches work.

"They lose their weekends. My reasons for retiring are to spend more time with the family.

"I would love to be involved in some way. Exactly what it is yet, I am not sure, but I can't commit."