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Page last updated at 06:55 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 07:55 UK

Perpignan sign All Black Carter

New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter in action against England in June 2008
Carter is widely considered to be one of the world's best players

New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter will join French side Perpignan on a six-month deal in December after the All Blacks' northern hemisphere tour.

He has been handed a sabbatical by the New Zealand authorities as they battle to prevent a player drain to Europe.

The Crusaders star, 26, will miss the 2009 Super 14 season but will return to play for the All Blacks in June.

Carter had been linked with Toulon but said: "Perpignan's qualification for the European Cup swayed my decision."

Since the 2007 World Cup New Zealand have lost a host of big names, including Carl Hayman, Jerry Collins, Luke McAlister and Chris Jack, to clubs in Europe.

They are no longer eligible for selection for the All Blacks because the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) will only pick players from its domestic competitions.

If I am going to play rugby in Europe I want to test myself against the best Europe can offer

Star fly-half Dan Carter

However, in an attempt to prevent the loss of their marquee names the NZRU has agreed new deals with Carter and captain Richie McCaw that allow them to sign short-term contracts abroad while still remaining available for the All Blacks.

Carter, a former International Rugby Board player of the year, will remain in New Zealand after returning from France to help the All Blacks prepare for the 2011 World Cup, which will be held in New Zealand.

"I would like to thank the NZRU for offering me this unique opportunity," said Carter.

"The All Black jersey is no-one's by right and I fully appreciate that I will have to continue to play well and prove myself if I am to be involved with the All Blacks next year and beyond.

"The 2011 Rugby World Cup is going to be a phenomenal event and my priority has always been to be available to take part in that."

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Carter had been expected to join Toulon, who have just been promoted back to France's Top 14 competition under the guidance of former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga but opted for Catalan side Perpignan because they are in the Heineken Cup.

"If I am going to play rugby in Europe I want to test myself against the best Europe can offer," added Carter.

"I am excited about the challenges both the Top 14 and the European Cup will bring."

Carter was part of the Crusaders team that won the 2008 Super 14 to make it seven titles in 13 years and has scored 731 points for the All Blacks, including 23 tries, from 47 caps.

Perpignan, nicknamed the Sang et Or (Blood and Gold) because of their club colours, finished fourth in the 2007-08 Top 14 season and were beaten in the play-off semi-finals by Clermont Auvergne.

In next season's Heineken Cup Perpignan have been drawn alongside English giants Leicester and Welsh side the Ospreys.


see also
Heineken Cup draw - full details
17 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
New Zealand 44-12 England
21 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand 37-20 England
14 Jun 08 |  English
Carter set to take French leave
11 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
Young, gifted All Black
03 Jul 05 |  Internationals


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