Three years in France may be enough for Dan Carter. The former All Blacks first five-eighth has revealed a strong desire to bring his family home once his lucrative stint at Racing Metro is complete next year.

Carter joined the Paris-based club after guiding the All Blacks to successive crowns at the 2015 World Cup on a deal worth over $6 million (NZD) - a salary that, at the time, made him the world's highest paid player.

Enjoying instant success, Carter helped Racing claim their first Top 14 title in 26 years, though the club could not pull off the double, losing to Saracens in the European Cup final.

Carter has options once fulfilling his duties in France. Largely stress-free stints in Japan are favourable stopovers for many top players nearing the end of their respective careers.

Advertisement

In just one example, after playing over 100 games for Toulon, former Wallabies playmaker Matt Giteau joined Suntory this year. Carter may yet follow a similar route.
For now, the 35-year-old only appears clear that he will, one day soon, leave France and return home.

"I'm kind of going through those thoughts at the moment - whether I stay or whether I look at other opportunities," Carter told Radio Sport's Martin Devlin.

"Home, New Zealand, is where the family is and that's a big part of my life. My personal family, my two boys and beautiful wife, they've sacrificed a lot coming over to the other side of the world to be with me so it would be nice to return the favour one day and move back to New Zealand so they're able to spend time with our families; spend time with their cousins and have the same upbringing we did.

"They're decisions I'm weighing at the moment. I'm not young and single anymore thinking about yourself and where you're going to be playing next and where next pay cheque will be. You've got to start putting your family first and that's one of my biggest priorities at the moment."

Unlike some, Carter has not been surprised by the All Blacks continued progression despite his exit coinciding with the loss of over 800 test caps. Those now to the fore - the likes of Beauden Barrett and Sam Cane - were groomed long before Carter and co departed.

With the same management in place to bring through those deputies, the transition has been relatively seamless, other than the disappointingly drawn British and Irish Lions series.

Carter has sat back and admired the All Blacks set piece dominance; their speed and ability to attack space.

"It was probably a good time to get out when I did because some of the athletes that are playing at the moment are incredible. When you watch international rugby it's better to be a spectator at my age. There's still that competitiveness in me but you've got to be impressed with how things are going in that All Black environment.

"There's just so much depth in New Zealand rugby. They're in a great space at the moment."

Naturally, Carter has empathy for Barrett. The expectations and criticism placed on any All Blacks first-five are constant, and after playing 112 tests from 2003 to '05, no-one appreciates that more than Carter.

Early in his career he was grateful for the chance to learn from Carlos Spencer and Andrew Mehrtens. But it was in the latter stages, particularly the build-up to his World Cup swansong, where public doubt grew loudest as he struggled with form and injuries.

"It's a position we look to for direction and often we can point the finger.

"The four years leading into that was challenging. I had a lot of thoughts about retiring and whether my body could get through to another World Cup. I had a lot setbacks but the people around me; my friends, family, coaches, medical team. It all worked out magically in the end. We'd put a lot of our lives into the black jersey so to be able to finish on such a special note is something I'm extremely proud of."

Carter worked alongside Barrett for four years in the All Blacks and had nothing but praise for his successor. He highlighted Barrett's acceleration, game-breaking qualities and along with noting he was still maturing, wanted no part in a potential footrace with the Hurricanes pivot.

"He's creating so many opportunities just because of his speed."