French clubs chase All Blacks first-five Carter

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 10:53 21/12/2012
Dan Carter
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GET CARTER: French clubs Toulon and Racing Metro are among the first to offer All Blacks first-five Dan Carter prospective deals for a sabbatical from NZ rugby in coming years.

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Wealthy French clubs Toulon and Racing Metro are reportedly vying for All Blacks star Dan Carter in a deal that would make him the highest-paid player in the game.

Carter, recently named the IRB's player of the year, has a sabbatical built into his current New Zealand contract and it looks like he could make a fortune out of it.

The Rugby Paper in England suggested current negotiations could see Carter take his break after next year's end of year tour of Europe. That would see him miss the 2014 Super Rugby championship and the June internationals.

Carter hasn't hidden his desire to return to Europe for a playing stint after his last effort with Perpignan was cut short because of an Achilles injury.

The Rugby Paper said Racing Metro president Jacky Lorenzetti was a long-term admirer of Carter reportedly offering him a £4m (NZ$7.8 million), three-year contract after the World Cup but now Toulon's own multi-millionaire owner, Mourad Boudjellal, has entered the fray.

With England star Jonny Wilkinson's playing days at Toulon now numbered, there will be a vacancy in the No 10 jersey there.

Given his status, Carter could probably name his price.

A source told The Rugby Paper: "Boudjellal has been in contact with Dan's representatives so it will probably come down to a bidding war between them and Metro.

"Metro really want to bring him over and what they have in their favour is that Carter (right) is set to have a young family and Paris would be very attractive in that regard."

But Toulon have the advantage of Heineken Cup action while Racing Metro are currently struggling in France's Top 14 championship.

The French won't be the only clubs hunting Carter with wealthy Japanese outfits also likely to be sniffing around.

The big question for the 30-year-old will be whether to use the sabbatical to play and earn extra or take a complete break like his good friend and captain Richie McCaw is now doing with a six-month stint on the sidelines to freshen up.

Carter's skills aren't diminishing as age catches up on him but he appears to be more susceptible to injuries, taking tow enforced breaks during this year's test programme.

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