Dan Carter signed a four-year contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union that gives the All Blacks’ playmaker the option of another sabbatical overseas.
Carter, his country’s leading scorer with 1,188 points in 79 Tests, will play in New Zealand until the end of the 2015 season and will stay with his Canterbury Crusaders Super Rugby team, the NZRU said in a statement.
Carter, 29, said he had been tempted by “significant offers” from overseas clubs before committing to his country. Fellow fly-halves Stephen Brett, Luke McAlister and Mike Delany are due to leave New Zealand at the end of the season for teams in Japan and Europe.
“This has been an incredibly important decision for me personally,” Carter said in the statement. “But in the end the overriding factor for me was the All Blacks jersey.”
Carter’s future beyond this year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand has been the subject of media speculation in recent months. Paris-based Racing Metro offered him a three-year deal worth almost 4 million pounds ($6.5 million) that would have made Carter the highest paid player in the world, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported on April 17.
While the NZRU wouldn’t disclose financial details of Carter’s contract, the Wellington-based governing body said it had “thought outside the square” to retain his services.
“We’ve been very flexible,” said Steve Tew, the NZRU’s chief executive officer. “We’ve built in options for Dan to take an extended break from the game if he so wishes -- whether that’s to take a break from rugby or play overseas.”
Carter was granted leave for six months to play for French club Perpignan in 2009, though his time on the field was limited by an Achilles injury. He said afterward that he’d like to return to France one day.
Carter has set a raft of records since making his Super Rugby and All Blacks debut in 2003. As well as being New Zealand’s highest Test points scorer, he’s tallied a record 1,174 points in Super Rugby, the southern hemisphere’s elite provincial competition. He was voted the International Rugby Board’s Player of the Year in 2005.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry said Carter’s decision to re-sign was a fillip before New Zealand tries to win its first Rugby World Cup title since 1987 in September and October.
“Daniel is the best player in the world in his position, one of the best to have ever worn the All Blacks jersey and the vice-captain and on-field navigator of the All Blacks,” Henry said. “Fans both here in New Zealand and overseas will be celebrating his re-signing.”