It is business as usual at the Carter household – until an armed police car pulls up outside the kitchen window. Three uniformed officers step out of the vehicle and Honor Carter takes their call via the intercom at the front gate.

"Monsieur Carter, s'il vous plait?"

Addressing the commotion, Dan Carter steps into the front garden where his two sons have just been running around with a hosepipe.

'Un photo, s'il vous plait?' says the leading officer, prompting a sigh of relief as he reaches for his camera phone rather than his handcuffs.

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Carter obliges — posing for a handful of photos — before resuming normal duty at his home in a sleepy, tree-lined suburb with distant views of the Eiffel Tower.

"S**t, you almost had the money shot there," he says with a laugh.

Greig Laidlaw chats with Dan Carter following the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final match. Photo / Getty Images
Greig Laidlaw chats with Dan Carter following the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final match. Photo / Getty Images

Despite being 36-years-old and 11,000 miles from the rugby mecca of New Zealand, Carter is still the hottest ticket in the sport.

He was even invited for lunch by the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern during her visit to Paris on Monday.

Having made his All Blacks debut in 2003, however, the No 10 is approaching the final six weeks of his top-level career, before moving to Japan in the summer.

He will face Munster in Bordeaux — with the aim of making the Champions Cup the final major addition to his medal collection back in his home town of Southbridge.

"Winning Europe was one of my main motivations for coming here," he says, having sparked victory from the bench in the quarter finals — and continuing as a replacement today. 'It doesn't seem that long ago that I was hanging out at uni parties, but I've been fortunate in my career to win some great trophies and I want my younger team-mates to experience that.

"It will be tough because Irish rugby is on such a high… most Kiwis enjoyed the Six Nations this year and Munster and Leinster have been the form clubs in Europe.

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"We've given ourselves a shot, though, and for me personally it would be a nice way to sign out of French rugby."

Dan Carter and former Racing 92 defence coach Ronan O'Gara. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Carter and former Racing 92 defence coach Ronan O'Gara. Photo / Getty Images

Boxes are already being packed ahead of the move, although the living room remains full of children's toys and two Kiwi wooden sheep.

There is a black-and-white painting with the names of all of Carter's clubs in his hallway. The Kobe Steelers will be the final name, although his career almost took a different direction.

"Sorry, the house is a pigsty because we're already getting things ready," he says.

"I almost moved to England before the 2015 World Cup. Bath showed a lot of interest. The deal was on the table and I just had to say "Yes" or "No". I had a few conversations with their owner Bruce Craig – we met up in France – but I decided on France because it was more of a different culture to New Zealand.

"Now it's the wrong end of my career to have a crack at the UK. I'm going to move into the same apartment block as my old mate Andy Ellis [former All Blacks scrum-half], so I'll be like his third child. I wouldn't say I'm winding down by moving to Japan, but the season structure isn't as demanding as the UK."

Carter will move to the Japanese island of Honshu, while his young family will return to Auckland for his children to start school. He has signed a two-year contract and intends to retire at the end of it, with no desire to become a coach.

Ellie Kirksmith has her five copies of My Story personally signed by her idol Dan Carter in 2015. Photo / Greg Bowker
Ellie Kirksmith has her five copies of My Story personally signed by her idol Dan Carter in 2015. Photo / Greg Bowker

"I want the boys to spend their childhood running around with their cousins," he says, looking out towards a swimming pool and mini rugby posts in his garden.

"That's how I spent my childhood. On my eighth birthday, my dad turned our half-acre gherkin field into a rugby pitch overnight and that's where it all started – kicking every day until it got dark and playing with my cousins.

"The boys love taking kicks in the garden and my wife, who played hockey for New Zealand, will be saying, "No, no, no… use a hockey stick!"

"Marco kicks from in front of the posts and I go from the flowerbed. I've never beaten him… I can't break his heart! It's a chance for my family to settle."

Tucking into a plate of takeaway sushi for lunch, conversation turns to wider sporting events.

Carter sat next to Sir Alex Ferguson at last month's game between PSG and Real Madrid. He was invited by Joseph Parker to his fight with Anthony Joshua and he also kept a close eye on the Six Nations.

Golfer Sergio Garcia, Dan Carter and wife Honor in discussion during the centre court royal box on day five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. Photo / Getty Images
Golfer Sergio Garcia, Dan Carter and wife Honor in discussion during the centre court royal box on day five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. Photo / Getty Images

His favourite player? Fellow No 10 Owen Farrell, whom he believes will benefit from Saracens' early exit from Europe.

"It's a shame I'll be so far away when England play the All Blacks in November because that'll be massive," he says.

"The gloss might have been taken off by the results in the Six Nations, but it should be a great Test match. I don't think anyone will give England a chance after three defeats but they'll regroup and have a wee point to prove... And no better team to prove a point against than the No 1 side in the world. Early predictions? You'll pick the All Blacks but there's a lot of rugby still to play.

"For England, I don't think it's all doom and gloom. In 2009, the All Blacks lost to South Africa three times, lost to France and had a close run with the BaaBaas. We lost about five games but we managed to pull things together and won the World Cup. One thing the All Blacks do extremely well is manage their players with the clubs. Owen Farrell needs to be on the field and he needs to be managed."

David Beckham and Dan Carter attend the Louis Vuitton Menswear Fall/Winter 2017-2018 show. Photo / Getty Images
David Beckham and Dan Carter attend the Louis Vuitton Menswear Fall/Winter 2017-2018 show. Photo / Getty Images

For the All Blacks, the biggest threat is the ongoing player drain.

While Carter moved to foreign shores in the twilight years of his career, more and more Kiwis are sacrificing fame for fortune by moving to the northern hemisphere in their 20s.

One of Carter's former apprentices, Lima Sopoaga, is next in line and will join Wasps this summer at the age of 27. 'Lima's got all the tricks in the book,' says Carter, who will make way for Scottish No 10 Finn Russell at Racing 92.

"He's a great signing for them. There's a lot more opportunities for players Down Under to come and play up here, rather than vice versa. They've probably got a bit more cash in England.

"Does it worry me? A little bit, but I completely respect those personal decisions and there are so many players coming through that the All Blacks will always be fine. I just want the All Blacks to forever be best team in the world."

Business as usual, then, for Monsieur Carter.

Dan Carter's rugby record

• New Zealand caps: 112 (89% win rate)
• International test points: 1,598
• Rugby World Cup winner x2
• Tri Nations/Rugby Championships x9
• National Provincial Championships x5
• Super Rugby Championships x4
• Home Nations Grand Slam x3
• Top 14 Champion x2
• British & Irish Lions Series
• One New Zealand Conference Win