All Blacks stand-off Dan Carter confirmed last night that he will end his Test career after next year’s World Cup – and join French club Racing Metro on a deal that could make him rugby’s best-paid player.
Carter, 32, the most prolific scorer in world rugby with 1,455 points in 102 Tests, yesterday announced his decision to join what is expected to be an exodus of leading Test players to European clubs after the World Cup.
Carter’s move has been anticipated for some time and British and New Zealand media have reported his deal could be worth up to £1.1 million per season.
The French club said Carter signed a three-year deal but did not give financial details.
Carter, who also plays for New Zealand side Crusaders in Super Rugby, said: “It’s going to be an awesome adventure for me and my family.
“Having said that, it’s the immediate future that is exciting me at the moment. 2015 is going to be a big year and I’m looking forward to getting into it, firstly with the Crusaders and then, hopefully, with the All Blacks.”
Carter became just the fifth New Zealand player with 100 caps this season, 11 years after his All Blacks debut.
He was named World Rugby Player of the Year in 2005 – after leading the All Blacks to a 3-0 series win over the British and Irish Lions – and again in 2012.
But his career has recently been hampered by injuries and he has twice been granted sabbaticals from rugby in the hope of extending his Test career.
During a 2008 stint with Perpignan, he suffered a ruptured achilles tendon that sidelined him for most of the following year.
He also missed the first seven months of this season on a sabbatical and then broke his leg during the Super Rugby final in August against the New South Wales Waratahs.
Although Carter maintains that he’s committed to regaining his fitness ahead of next year’s World Cup, he faces strong competition from Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade – all of whom have played at stand-off for the All Blacks during his absences.
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Carter will take over the No 10 jersey at Racing Metro from Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton, who is expected to join Leinster.
Racing Metro president Jacky Lorenzetti said: “At the end of the day, compared to all the things he will bring, he will be the cheapest player at the club.”
Steve Tew, chief executive of New Zealand Rugby Union, said Carter was a key part of a group of players who committed themselves to the All Blacks after the disappointing quarter-final loss at the 2007 World Cup, eventually leading the squad to the title four years later.
“Dan has been incredibly loyal to New Zealand Rugby over the years and we thank him,” Tew said. “That decision by Dan and other senior players to re-sign after 2007 should not be underestimated.”
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