WELLINGTON May 18 – All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter has signed a four-year contract to stay in New Zealand after this year's Rugby World Cup but retained an option to play overseas, officials said Wednesday.
New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief executive Steve Tew hailed Carter’s retention as a major coup given the level of interest from overseas clubs in one of the sport’s highest-profile players.
"We are absolutely delighted Dan has chosen to continue his career in New Zealand and we have the utmost respect for him, knowing he had some serious options to consider," Tew said in a statement.
He said the NZRU adopted a "flexible" approach when negotiating Carter’s contract to ensure the 29-year-old star stayed in the country.
"We have 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 — and he will discuss that with us at the right time," he said.
Carter was reportedly being courted with big-money offers from French clubs, with Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal saying last year that the 79-Test veteran was demanding 1.2 million euros ($1.7 million) a season.
The new contract raises the possibility of Carter playing rugby overseas during the New Zealand off season.
Warren Alcock, from Carter’s management company, Essentially Group, said it had been the most comprehensive individual contract he had been involved in negotiating.
"It has a level of detail and complexity that we haven’t faced in New Zealand before," he said.
Carter made his All Blacks debut in 2003 and is currently the second highest points scorer in Test history, with 1,188 points.
The NZRU’s attention is now likely to shift to All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, who is yet to reveal his intentions after the World Cup, which will be played in New Zealand from September 9-October 23.