Cape Town - All Black flyhalf Dan Carter has recalled a night of violence in South Africa in 2002 when he played for the New Zealand Under-21 team.
In his new autobiography, Dan Carter − My Story, Carter details a savage beating several of his team-mates suffered from bouncers at a Johannesburg nightclub.
Carter and team-mates headed to a bar several hours after they had beaten Wales in the Junior World Cup third-fourth place playoff.
The majority of the team wore team-issue polos - which Carter described as "our armour".
But after several hours drinking at what Carter recalled as a "dodgy club", the team's choice of clothing saw them being targeted for a level of brutality which the star flyhalf never experienced during his 12 years of Test rugby.
"Out of the blue, a voice boomed out over the club's sound system: 'Could all the New Zealanders please leave the premises immediately'," Carter wrote.
Initially the New Zealand team thought the announcement was a joke, but then realised the seriousness of the situation once it was repeated.
Scuffles started breaking out once the team left the venue.
Shocked at what was unfolding, Carter and fellow future All Black star Luke McAlister fled the venue and the pending violence.
"We didn't know it yet, but that one random, somewhat selfish decision might have ended up saving lives," he wrote.
"As soon as we left things exploded. Players started brawling with the bouncers. But what sent the whole scene over the edge was when reinforcements arrived not long after.
“We never imagined that our team-mates - big, strong athletes in great condition - couldn't handle themselves against a few security guys. We didn't know it yet, but that one random, somewhat selfish decision might have ended up saving our lives.
“As soon as we left, things exploded, players started brawling with the bouncers... (and) reinforcements arrived not long after. It became a scene of extreme violence, and guys were getting seriously beaten up. Sam Tuitupou laid a couple of guys out, before being overrun.
"Then gunshots rang out... our team retreated to the vans. Sam had been pistol-whipped, Jason Shoemark had copped a hell of a beating. As the vans tried to leave, the windows were smashed in - our guys were jumping fences, just running for their lives."
Carter and McAlister returned to the scene of the carnage to discover their team-mates had fled.
“We headed back to the hotel scared out of our minds, still not sure what had happened... When we arrived it was just carnage. There were guys with blood everywhere, guys missing teeth, broken noses, black eyes.”
READ more extracts on the NZ Herald website