ALL Blacks fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief today with the announcement that star first five-eighth Dan Carter has signed on for another four years with the New Zealand Rugby Union.
The four year contract means Carter will remain playing rugby in New Zealand until the end of the 2015 season and includes the option to take a sabbatical, it was announced at a press conference in Christchurch.
Carter will continue to play for the Crusaders and he'll be available for the 2015 World Cup in England.
"This has been an incredibly important decision for me personally and I have received some significant offers to play overseas which were both flattering and tempting. But in the end the overriding factor for me was the All Blacks jersey," the 29-year-old said.
The 79-test veteran made his test debut against Wales in 2003 and sits seven points behind England's Jonny Wilkinson as the second highest points scorer in tests with 1188.
The contract includes a clause where Carter can take a sabbatical from the game in New Zealand, giving him the option to play overseas during the four years.
Last month the Herald on Sunday reported that Carter and All Black captain Richie McCaw had been offered four-year contracts by the NZRU to stay in New Zealand with unprecedented levels of flexibility and payment.
According to the paper both players were offered the chance to take sabbaticals, either playing or non-playing, would be allowed to leave New Zealand at any stage of the contract and pick up around $850,000 a season.
McCaw has yet to re-sign with the NZRU.
Carter went on a six-month sabbatical in 2009 when he played for French club Perpignan but his playing time was cut short by an Achilles tendon injury.
The contract is an obvious boost for the All Blacks but also for the diminishing first five-eighth stocks in the country with Blues duo Stephen Brett, Luke McAlister and Chiefs no.10 Mike Delany all heading overseas at the end of the season.
NZRU CEO Steve Tew said: "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 confirmed that the NZRU had "thought outside the square" in securing Carter.
"We believe that the contract is a reflection of the high standing that Dan has in the game both here and overseas. We have been very flexible in our approach, which again shows how important we think Dan is to the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby.
"As an example, 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."
All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said fans will be celebrating the re-signing of the best no.10 in the world.
"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," he said.
"He is a tremendous ambassador for the All Blacks and our national game and fans both here in New Zealand and overseas will be celebrating his re-signing."
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