Dan Carter joins Blues at 38: Has he still got it?

Dan Carter may be 38 years of age, but his addition to an already superstar-laden Super Rugby Aotearoa has added another level of excitement to a tournament that will be the first professional rugby competition to resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carter has joined former All Blacks teammates Nehe Milner-Skudder and Sam Whitelock in making shock returns for the fledgling competition, the lock blazing the trail for Carter when he linked with the Crusaders last month after the Japan Top League was canceled.

At only 31 years of age, Whitelock is still in the prime of his career and is contracted with New Zealand Rugby through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Seven years older than his former Crusaders teammate, Carter may not move at the same speed that helped guide the All Blacks to victory at the 2015 World Cup.

But a quick look at some Japanese Top League highlights suggests he still has plenty to offer, his efforts for Kobelco Steelers against Yamaha Jubilo revealing the Carter shimmy-and-fend remains as dangerous as ever, so too his left boot.

In one of two try assists against Yamaha, Carter eases down the right touchline, drawing in four defenders with a weaving run and several dummies, to put winger Ataata Moeakiola over.

Then, in the second-half, Carter accelerates between two defenders before drawing the Yamaha fullback to create a try for scrum-half Hiwasa Atsushi.

Through the first six rounds of the Top League, Carter had scored a competition-leading 70 points while the unbeaten Steelers had risen to second place on the ladder behind only Robbie Deans' Panasonic Wild Knights.

Just how Carter lines up with the Blues remains to be seen, but he will not be available for their opening Aotearoa clash with the Hurricanes when the club's other star recruit Beauden Barrett will make his debut against his former club, and brother Jordie, on Saturday week.

While Carter would have no doubt loved to have finished off the Top League season with the high-flying Steelers, he suggested the unplanned break could actually extend his career, and those of other players whose careers might have otherwise been winding down.

Speaking with Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton as part of his Kickin It Facebook series, Carter said he had been fortunate to have a couple of breaks across his career before the one brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

"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."

Carter could foreseeably line up in either the No. 10 or 12 jerseys at the Blues, or provide cover off the bench; his closing years at the Crusaders often seeing him start at inside-centre outside Colin Slade.

Whatever the case, Carter's recruitment has added another layer of interest to a competition which will not only trial two new laws - and reinforce others that have at times been overlooked - but could also be among the first sports to again host spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will on Monday make a call about the nation returning to Alert Level 1 on June 10, which would permit stadiums welcoming fans to the opening Aotearoa games.

New Zealand has not recorded a new coronavirus case for 12 days and has just one active case.