The Blues have lured two of the all-time great five-eighths for their Super Rugby campaign after signing All Blacks legend Dan Carter as an injury replacement.
A franchise which has struggled for direction and success since Carlos Spencer’s departure 15 years ago, now boast past and present All Blacks playmakers Carter and Beauden Barrett as their options at No 10 for the looming season.
Carter, 38, confirmed reports on Thursday he was returning to the New Zealand game, having become a free agent when the Japan Top League shut down in March.
The world record Test point-scorer and dual World Cup winner has trained with his new teammates. He later warned he is unlikely to be seen until several weeks into the two-month competition which starts on 13 June.
When he gets on the park, it will be the first game on New Zealand soil for five years for Carter who served the Crusaders in Super Rugby for 13 seasons.
“I have not played for several months so it will be a number of weeks before I will be ready to be considered to play. And then only if my form warrants it,” he said.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to train in the same city that my kids go to school in and my family are currently living. For me it is a chance to mentor some young players and to give back to New Zealand rugby.”
The last of Carter’s 112 Tests was the 2015 World Cup final win over Australia at Twickenham, where he took his points tally to 1,598 and was later crowned world player of the year for a third time.
He took up offshore contracts at Racing 92 in Paris and the Kobelco Steelers, who he steered to the Japan club title in his first season.
The brilliant Barrett is expected to be the starting No 10 when the Blues host the Hurricanes in the opening round next week.
That game was expected to be all about Barrett, a nine-season Hurricane who has yet to make his Blues debut. However, two-time world player of the year Barrett acknowledged the game’s profile had gone to another level following Carter’s move.
“How good eh? Here I was thinking ‘next week is going to be hectic’, but holy hecker,” Barrett said to Carter during training in comments picked up by media.