PARIS, November 28- Giving up playing for New Zealand may have been a wrench but Dan Carter said on Friday the time had come to move on and tackle a new challenge.
Just a few hours after arriving in France, the 33-year-old said he had made his peace with his All Black career coming to an end as he embarks on a new chapter at big-spending but underachieving Racing 92.
But despite being set to earn a million euros ($1,059,000) a year on a three-year deal in Paris, Carter said there was more to his decision than financial considerations.
“You can make pretty good money playing in New Zealand too, it’s not all bad,” he told a packed press conference at Racing’s training complex just outside the French capital.
“It depends at what stage you’re at in your career. Because of that (higher salaries) it’s slightly more attractive to play in France, but… the thing is you can’t play international rugby any more for the All Blacks and that’s why I stayed in New Zealand for 13 years.
“But the timing is right to try a new challenge, not just for rugby but it’s a pretty exciting place to bring your family for a few years.
“That debate (not being eligible for New Zealand if you play abroad) will always be there; Australia opened up the doors to bring players back, it’s the same in South Africa (where non-domestic based players can still play for the Springboks) but there’s so much depth in New Zealand rugby that they don’t need players like me to come back.
“I’ve accepted the ruling and I’m happy to retire from international rugby and move onto this challenge.”
Carter has won almost everything in his career with two World Cups, four Super Rugby titles and nine victories in the Tri-Nations or Rugby Championship, as well as a series success over the British and Irish Lions in 2005.
He has also been named world player of the year three times.
– Different challenge –
Carter did actually play in France previously in 2009 when he joined Perpignan on a six-month contract.
The Catalans went on to win the Top 14 title that year but Carter ruptured his Achilles tendon after playing only five matches and his season was over.
But the record points scorer in international rugby said he saw enough in that short period to whet his appetite for a return to the country.
“It was quite different six years ago at Perpignan: it was only for a six-month period, it was always going to be a short stint and I was going to return to New Zealand.
“I had aspirations to play for the All Blacks.
“This time it’s different. Part of the reason I came back was because of those six months I had living in France which reaffirmed what an amazing country it is. Even living here in a short time-frame, I wanted to come back and play here again.
“This time the contract is much longer; I’ve put international rugby behind me. Now I’m finished I can concentrate just on playing well for this team.
“It’s a slightly different challenge to the last time I was here but one I’m looking forward to.”
And even the recent deadly Paris terror attacks could not dull Carter’s enthusiasm.
“It’s never easy coming from such a safe and secure place like New Zealand but the people I talked to living here — I talked to some great people who knew a lot of information — everyone I talked to gave us so much reassurance.
“It’s probably harder for friends and family we’re leaving behind because they haven’t talked to the people I have to get that reassurance.
“It’s tough for them but I’m sure they’ll be over here in no time.”