Dan Carter signs four-year deal with New Zealand

New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter
Carter is regarded as one of the most talented fly-halves in the world

All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter has signed a new deal that will keep him in New Zealand for the next four years.

The 29-year-old will continue with New Zealand and his club Canterbury until after the 2015 World Cup in England.

Carter, who spent time with French club Perpignan in 2008/09, has a contract clause that allows him a sabbatical.

"It's been a pretty tough decision," said Carter. "I'm relieved and excited about re-signing with New Zealand - it's a pretty special moment."

Carter has been linked with a number of overseas clubs, including the likes of Bath and French side Racing Metro.

But he decided that he could not face missing out on playing for his country.

"I guess the underlining factor is the black jersey," said Carter, the most capped All Blacks fly-half with 79 Tests.

"It means a lot to me and the more I thought about potentially playing overseas and not being able to represent my country and wear that black jersey was pretty challenging."

Carter spent time in France two years ago, signing for Top 14 side Perpignan in December 2008 only to tear his Achilles tendon after five games.

The sabbatical clause allows him to again ply his trade overseas but Carter admits he does not know whether he will take advantage of it.

"The Rugby Union has thought outside the square and come up with some good options, but whether I take the sabbatical in the contract is something I haven't thought about too much," he added.

"I'm really happy playing my rugby in New Zealand at the moment and I'm looking to continue that for now."

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said the signing was a big news for the sport in the country.

"We've said all along we can't compete on the numbers with international offers," he said.

"Dan's made a sharp point for all of us in that the jersey is pretty important in his decision so our policy to retain the rule to be selected for the All Blacks you have to be here playing in our domestic competitions is pretty important.

"That's been brought home by his decision. We haven't played the numbers game but as Dan indicated we've tried to be flexible and given him scope to make the most of that four years across a range of activities some which he might exercise and some which he might not."