All Blacks great Dan Carter is edging closer to a potential Blues debut after it was confirmed last night he will play grassroots rugby for his beloved Southbridge club this weekend.
A spokesperson for the small Canterbury club confirmed last night Carter would be available for Saturday's match in the Ellesmere senior competition which will see Southbridge host West Melton.
It is expected Carter will don the No.10 jersey in the fixture - his first appearance for Southbridge since 2014 when he was working his way back to fitness for the Crusaders.
Last month, Carter announced he was auctioning off one of his treasured All Blacks test jerseys to raise money for the club which was badly hit financially this year by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"They are the heartbeat of the community,” he said of the rugby club.
"I don't know what my little town of Southbridge would be like without the rugby club.
"I don't even want to imagine what it would be like. It would leave a big hole in a lot of people’s hearts that live around that community."
Carter stunned Super Rugby fans, especially Crusaders supporters, last month when he announced he had signed with the Blues for the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition. The deal saw fans excited by the prospect of Carter potentially combining with the Blues' other big offseason signing - star playmaker Beauden Barrett.
But Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said Carter wouldn't be rushed into playing, needing time to get up his fitness after spending much of the lockdown not training.
"We're three weeks into building our progression, he's day one," MacDonald said at the time..
"We've got to take our time to make sure we look after Dan. We need to progress him safely. He's got a lot of work to get through before we start considering [Carter] for selection. Don't expect to see DC on the rugby fields in the early weeks by any stretch.
"We'll take our time, and when he is ready to go it'll be on a needs basis."
The Blues are currently top of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition after starting their campaign undefeated with wins over the Hurricanes, Chiefs and Highlanders before going on a bye this week.