All Blacks great Dan Carter has revealed he feared for his life in two violent incidents in South Africa early in his career.
Carter tells of a vicious beating suffered by members of his New Zealand under-21 team during a late-night incident in Johannesburg in 2002.
A year later, he says he was robbed and threatened with being shot by assailants in Cape Town.
The episodes are outlined in Carter’s autobiography released in the wake of his match-winning performance in New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup triumph.
The 33-year-old world record point-scorer has retired from the international game and will leave next week to take up a contract with Paris-based club Racing 92.
Carter wrote that several players were caught up in the first South African incident following New Zealand’s final game at the 2002 Junior World Cup.
He says after several hours of drinking, the players were advised to leave a nightclub and when they did so, scuffles broke out.
Carter and another future All Black, Luke McAlister, left the scene at that stage.
“We didn’t know it yet, but that one random, somewhat selfish decision might have ended up saving our lives,” he said.
“As soon as we left things exploded. Players started brawling with the bouncers.
“It became a scene of extreme violence, and guys from both sides were getting seriously beaten up. The whole thing had a level of violence way beyond the average pub brawl.
“Then gunshots rang out.”
Carter says New Zealand squad members sought refuge in team vans.
He remembers future All Black Sam Tuitupou being pistol-whipped.
“There were guys with blood everywhere, guys missing teeth, guys with eggs on their heads, broken noses, black eyes.
“It was horrifying. Everyone was terrified, scared for their lives.”
Carter was in Cape Town in 2003 with the Crusaders during a Super Rugby trip when he became isolated one night.
He was pinned against the wall by two men who demanded his phone, something the young playmaker initially refused to do.
“‘Get your gun out and shoot him’, I heard. My blood ran cold,” he wrote.
“I handed him the phone, put my head down and walked off as quickly as I could, my pulse racing, entirely sobered up.”