All Black great Dan Carter believes age is no longer a factor in the game and, with sabbaticals, players can continue at the top level even at the age of 40.
Talking to 34-year-old Johnny Sexton, the two-time World Cup winner has given fresh impetus to talk that he will continue in the game despite being three years older than his Irish counterpart. The Kiwi No 10 is a free agent after ending his spell in Japan with a title win.
‘Using this time off, it’s something you don’t get as a professional rugby player,’ Carter said.
‘Having two or three months, maybe it’s going to be much longer, of not having that constant grind, that contact. So it is like a mini sabbatical. I was very fortunate to have a couple through my career, but if it’s used wisely the young players that have been playing heavily for the past four or five seasons, it’s perfect timing.
‘Then you look at the other side of the spectrum with more experienced players like yourself [Sexton], you don’t get many opportunities like this.
‘So, if it’s used wisely and you keep training, and as long as your motivation upstairs is still there, I can’t see why you can’t play longer than potentially you thought you might, with having a break like this.
‘Obviously, there is some pretty exciting rugby around the corner over the next couple of years, so I told Maro [Itoje, last week’s guest] that I expect him to still be playing when he’s 38 years old, like myself, and with you having a break like this then you can probably push through to the 40s. So, I’m looking forward to seeing that.’
Sexton agreed that he, too, could play on for a few more years because pace is not a key attribute of his own game.
‘I don’t rely on my pace too much, so that’s not been a factor. But you know all the bits of my game, I think that I can do no matter if I was 30 or 35, 36, 37,’ he said.