World leading points scorer Dan Carter will join French club Racing Metro in Top 14 on a three-year contract after next year’s rugby World Cup, a move that will almost certainly bring an end to his storied international career.
The 32-year-old had been widely expected to leave New Zealand rugby after the 2015 World Cup in England following a horrendous run with injuries.
It will be Carter’s second foray into French club rugby after he signed a seven-month deal with Perpignan in 2008 but only played five games before a foot injury.
“It’s going to be an awesome adventure for me and my family,” Carter said in a statement. “Having visited France many times, including my time with Perpignan, I know what the French culture and their rugby culture is like and it’s something I really love.
“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.”
He joins Australia veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper, who said earlier he would join Bordeaux-Begles on a two-year contract, and former Wallabies captain James Horwill who will join English club Harlequins following the World Cup.
The exodus from New Zealand and Australia is expected to grow, with reports that All Blacks inside centre Ma’a Nonu is fielding overseas offers.
Both nations have selection policies that preclude players based offshore from playing for the national sides.
Carter’s move is unsurprising given his run with injury since the 2011 World Cup, where he suffered a torn groin muscle before the All Blacks’ final pool game and was ruled out of the rest of the tournament.
He has appeared in just eight of the All Blacks’ 28 Tests in the past two seasons after problems with his Achilles’ tendon, groin, shoulder and a broken leg.
He was identified by coach Steve Hansen two years ago as a “red-flag athlete”, whose workload needed to be carefully managed to get him through to the 2015 World Cup.
Carter had a NZRU-approved six-month sabbatical earlier this year to allow him time to recover from nagging injuries but then broke his leg in the Super Rugby final in August and played just two Tests on the end of season tour this year.
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