First five-eighths Daniel Carter will have to turn down offers of up to twice his present salary if he wants to remain an All Black beyond next season.
Industry sources say an All Black of Carter's stature is likely to receive offers in excess of $1 million a season to play in Europe after the star revealed in Britain that he will give consideration to playing in rugby's English Premiership after next year.
Top-tier All Blacks typically earn around $500,000 in combined NZRU and provincial union salaries.
Carter, whose contract with the NZRU expires at the end of 2008, told a British television channel he would consider offers from England.
In Britain on a promotional tour, the 25-year-old All Blacks playmaker told Sky Sports News: "It's something I'm going to have to have a good think about as I consider where I want my career to head.
"But it's definitely on the cards for the future."
Prop Carl Hayman set the most recent benchmark of an All Black's value in Europe when he signed a deal with Premiership club Newcastle Falcons widely reported to be worth £300,000 ($823,000) a season.
Carter could expect to command considerably more than that.
While the NZRU would be unlikely to match an offer from Europe, it would point to the value of his All Black status as part of the bid to retain his services.
Carter has lucrative promotional deals in New Zealand with the likes of sportswear giant adidas and underwear company Jockey and, despite reports to the contrary, the Weekend Herald understands he would struggle to attract the same level of endorsement income in soccer-mad Europe.
"For starters he would no longer be an All Black so he wouldn't be on the world stage," said an industry insider who preferred not to be named.
"And he isn't English or French so he is nowhere near as well known as someone like Jonny Wilkinson."
British clubs would also struggle to break the bank to snare Carter as they operate under salary cap constraints.
Even Wilkinson at his peak could not command a salary over £300,000.
Despite having said shortly after this year's World Cup exit that he planned to remain in the black jersey, Carter is unlikely to rush into any decision. He told Sky Sports News he would wait until his current contract expired before making a decision on where he wanted his career to head.
"I really enjoy playing over here [in England] - there are great crowds and great people."