New Zealand rugby
Dan Carter denies Japan sabbatical
March 6, 2013
Dan Carter of the Crusaders runs with the ball during the Super Rugby trial match against the Waratahs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, February 14, 2013
Dan Carter has denied rumours he was close to signing for another overseas stint. © Getty Images
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Reports that All Blacks five-eighth Dan Carter was close to signing with Japanese club Toyota was news to the man himself.

Carter was surrounded by a media posse at the Crusaders training in Christchurch on Wednesday, but instead of questions being asked how he was approaching the Super Rugby clash against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday night, Carter was quizzed over a possible Japan contract.

"I'm not sure where that's come from. It's just bad reporting again and speculating because I'm nowhere near signing any deal or getting any closer deciding what I'm going to do or even if I will take my sabbatical or not," Carter said.

The All Blacks star did not deny that his management group had fished for expression of interest.

"They've thrown it out there, but it's still pretty much early stages and we're not talking about any money or when." Carter said.

Carter hinted, however, that if he didn't take a sabbatical and played off-shore then Japan could be the preferred option.

"I've experienced Europe before on a sabbatical and really enjoyed that. I loved my time in France and one thing I realised was how physical the footy was even though I only played five games," Carter said. "I guess at this stage of my career I'm probably steering more towards having a complete break or being somewhere closer to home, potentially Japan."

Carter said he was starting his 11th year as a professional rugby player and it was starting to take a toll on his body.

"I've signed [with NZRU] to 2015 and want to be around for another World Cup so I have to be smart about what I do until then," Carter said. "Because it's the start of a new season I really want to focus on the here and now. I've dealt with contracts before and it can dwell on your mind. So I just want to start this season well and give everything to the Crusaders. Then as the season gets on I'll start seriously looking at what I want to do after this year."

Pressed about the Toyota connection, Carter said he knew nothing about it until informed this morning.

"If I had put pen to paper I'd tell you guys first so it's just speculation," Carter smiled. "I'm committed to a full season playing rugby in New Zealand. I want to play as much footy this year for the Crusaders as I can and I want to put on that black jersey and play as many games as possible."

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