The New England Patriots are known for getting great performances out of unconventional players, but new rumors indicate that the team once tried to look all the way to New Zealand, trying to convince rugby legend Dan Cater to give American football a try.
The Kiwi just turned in a fantastic performance over the course of the Rugby World Cup and is set to retire from the sport in the next few months. But in looking back on his playing career, Carter revealed that he once had a chance to leave the sport — and the continent — to play for the Super Bowl champion Patriots.
According to the Telegraph, Carter was taking a break from rugby in 2013 when New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft reportedly sought him out.
” ‘What are you going to bring to this team? Do you think you can make the transition to the NFL?’
“I mumbled my way through some answers, looking across to Luke, who seemed equally lost. We spent 10 or 15 minutes talking through the realities of the sport, and whether it was plausible for me to make the transition.”
Dan Carter said the offer piqued his interest, especially when he saw how much attention the team put into its kicking game.
“I ended up sitting with the head of special teams, who works with kickers and other specialists, and watching tape of elite place-kickers for a couple of hours, while he talked me through their technique.”
Dan Carter may have been only a few years away from joining an influx from the Pacific region to the NFL. This year, rugby standout Jarryd Hayne made the move to football, joining the San Francisco 49ers.
Hayne was sensational in the preseason, but struggled when the regular season started, and ended up being waived. He cleared waivers and is now a member of the team’s practice squad. Many think Hayne could still have a good future in the NFL, especially as he works on some of the unique mechanics to the NFL, like keeping his torso lower as he runs to avoid the ball being vulnerable.
He has also kept a positive outlook, Fox Sports noted, despite the chance to return to rugby.
— telegraph_sport (@telegraph_sport) November 12, 2015
“Hayne has never given off the vibe that he’s too good for this,” the report noted. “Too good to be used in a limited role the first six games. Too good to not even suit up for a night-time game against the rival Seattle Seahawks. Too good to be relegated to the practice squad.”
— FOX SPORTS Australia (@FOXSportsAUS) November 12, 2015
Dan Carter could have entered a much different situation. New England Patriots coach Bill Belicick has a knack for getting great performances out of players outside their natural roles, like moving wide receiver Troy Brown to cornerback for the team’s early Super Bowl runs.
But after reviewing the offer, money ultimately trumped his desire to change sports, and Carter ended up signing with Racing Metro.
“With only a couple more years’ rugby in me, it was paramount that I play for a club that is moving in the right direction, that has a vision for success in the short term. Both clubs fit that category. So it’s the south of France or Paris — a good problem to have.”
Had he chosen the New England Patriots, Dan Carter could be retiring with a Super Bowl ring, though he seems content with the Rugby World Cup title.
[Picture by Mike Hewitt / Getty Images]