All Blacks: European Cup sways Carter's Perpignan move (+photos)

By Wynne Gray

The chance to play in the European Cup has swayed All Black first five-eighths Daniel Carter to sign with French club Perpignan.

Carter revealed he had also looked at signing with Toulon, where former All Black skipper Tana Umaga coaches, but they had not qualified to play in next season's leading European competition.

Carter said the lifestyle in the south of France and a change of rugby style had persuaded him to pack up his sporting talents and head for Perpignan once the All Black tour to Europe was finished at the end of the year.

The 26-year-old Carter has played 47 tests for the All Blacks since his debut against Wales in 2003.

He said he needed a change to build up his experience, enjoy a different rugby lifestyle and different competitions before he returned to work towards the 2011 World Cup.

"I don't know a lot about the players but I am looking forward to it, I will be out of my comfort zone and it will be a challenge," he said.

He had consulted former All Black looseforward Scott Robertson who had played at the club and while it was a tough decision to miss the next Super 14, it was a move he wanted to make.

The All Blacks first five-eighths intends leaving after the All Blacks tour to Hong Kong and Europe at the end of this year and will return in the middle of next year.

"Obviously we hear a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of the European competitions and how they compare to the Super 14 and the Air New Zealand Cup," Carter said.

"Basically, if I am going to play rugby in Europe, I want to test myself against the best Europe can offer and I am excited about the challenges both the Top 14 and the European Cup will bring.

"I have done plenty of research on both Toulon and Perpignan and while I have no doubt that I would have enjoyed Toulon, in the end, Perpignan's qualification for next year's European Cup swayed my decision."

Carter said he would not ask to repeat this leave of absence. Once his time at Perpignan was done he would put all his energies into helping his sides in New Zealand.

Meanwhile All Blacks selectors Graham Henry and Steve Hansen are dispersing today for some last-minute viewing of candidates to deputise in the Tri-Nations for injured All Black captain Richie McCaw.

Henry will travel to Napier to watch the NZ Maori play, with particular interest in openside flanker Tanerau Latimer and locks Jason Eaton and Ross Filipo.

McCaw is out for about six weeks and All Black lock Ali Williams is also battling to recover after damaging his ankle in the final test win against England.

Meanwhile Hansen will watch former All Black flanker Chris Masoe in Wellington club rugby before the selectors consult and announce the squad replacements.

- NZ Herald

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