WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Flyhalf Dan Carter made his return to rugby after a six-month layoff on Saturday at a tiny club ground to which hundreds of All Blacks fans made pilgrimage.
Carter, who played the most recent of his 100 tests at the end of last season, has been on a 'sabbatical' designed to prolong his international career at least through the 2015 World Cup.
Hours before his All Blacks teammates took the field in the second test against England at Dunedin, Carter ran out for Southbridge on a club ground 50 kilometres south of Christchurch in a minor leagues match against Glenmark.
He played only 40 minutes but in that time set up two tries to give his team a 20-5 halftime lead.
It was something of a homecoming for Carter, who first played rugby as a child for the Southbridge club which is near his family home on the sprawling Canterbury plains: his father remains the coach of the club's second division team.
He last played for the club in 2009 when he made his comeback from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The Twitter account of the Southbridge club has only 85 followers but a crowd estimated at more than 1,500 turned out Saturday to see him in his comeback match.
© Coast Reporter