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Wellington (AFP) - All Black great Dan Carter will leave New Zealand rugby after next year's World Cup to play for French Top 14 club Racing Metro, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) said Thursday.
Carter, a Test centurion and the world's most prolific international points scorer, said the move to France on a three-year deal would be "an awesome adventure for me and my family".
"I know what the French culture and their rugby culture is like and it's something I really love," the 32-year-old fly-half said.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen offered his congratulations to Carter, saying he had set a benchmark in the number 10 jersey.
"He is still in the midst of a wonderful career, both as a provincial, Super Rugby player and an All Black, and will leave us as the greatest first five-eighth (fly-half) ever," he said.
Carter has played 102 Tests for New Zealand, scoring a world record 1,457 points, and was named the world player of the year in 2005 and 2012.
But injuries have forced him to become a bit-player for New Zealand in recent years, even though Hansen insists a fit and firing Carter remains his first choice pivot.
He only played against the USA and Scotland in last month's northern hemisphere tour, with Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett preferred for high-profile matches against England and Wales.
Carter's previous experience of club rugby in France ended early when he ruptured an Achilles tendon after only five games playing for Perpignan in 2008-09.
Financial details of the deal with Paris-based Racing Metro were not revealed.
However, according to British media reports, the club first tried to lure him with a US$6.5 million three-year deal after the 2011 World Cup but were rebuffed.
That is perhaps because the player feels he still has something to prove at next year's tournament after appearing in three World Cups without playing in a final.
He was in the All Blacks teams knocked out in the play-offs in 2003 and 2007 and was part of the New Zealand team that won in 2011 but missed the knockout stages with a groin injury, later admitting he did not feel he deserved his Cup winner's medal.