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Carter weighs up sabbatical as Tokyo tempts Nonu

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Liam Napier and David Long

Dan Carter may take a sabbatical in 2014.

Dan Carter may take a sabbatical in 2014. Photo: Getty Images

Dan Carter is set to take a playing sabbatical in 2014 while Ma'a Nonu is being wooed to walk away from the All Blacks in favour of a permanent move to Japanese rugby.

They are the latest machinations around New Zealand's highest profile players following All Blacks captain Richie McCaw's decision to take a six-month break from all rugby next year.

Carter has ruled out taking a sabbatical next year but has hinted at playing overseas rather than having a rest.

After missing a large chunk of the world cup triumph and this year's Crusaders campaign, he is keen to play a full season in 2013 to help the franchise cover McCaw's leadership absence - welcome news for Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.

But a spanner has been thrown into the works of Sir John Kirwan's plans to retain Nonu at the Blues with cashed-up Japanese club Ricoh wanting the experienced second five-eighth to come back for another season.

Nonu, 30, had a stint in Japan between last year's world cup and joining the Blues. Ricoh want him back and are prepared to pay big money. It is unlikely the NZRU would allow Nonu to use his off-season break for a second successive Japanese stint, raising speculation he may opt out of the last year of his NZ contract.

That would also spell the end of Nonu's All Blacks career and leave coach Steve Hansen short of options at second-five following the departure of Sonny Bill Williams.

Hansen also indicated earlier this year that Carter's workload would need to be carefully monitored after a calf injury ruled him out of tests against Argentina and the Springboks.

But Carter, 30, also moved to allay fears he needs to be managed following a concerning run of injuries. The world's premier first five-eighth took longer than expected to regain fitness and his long-range kicking ability after suffering a serious groin injury during last year's world cup, but showed against the Pumas last week just how valuable his experience and world-class composure is.

“I had a good break [after] getting injured at the world cup and taking a bit of time out at the start of the year travelling around America and South America. That was a great break. I just want to play rugby for the rest of this year and next year especially,” Carter told the Star-Times in South Africa.

“I feel fresh mentally. I'm in a good space and don't feel like I need any breaks. I'm really excited about the future.

"It's been frustrating to watch the last few home games. I've been working hard to make sure I was back to full fitness.”

With a full season in New Zealand next year, Carter's contractual right to a sabbatical is more likely to be exercised in 2014 with a playing stint in Europe. Carter is no stranger to the lucrative French club scene and could be tempted to return despite his ill-fated stint with Perpignan which was cut short by an Achilles injury. Fuelling that speculation, New Zealander Vern Cotter, who coaches Clermont, met Carter when home during the French off season.

“I'm not 100% sure but sometimes playing in a different country can be just as good as a break in terms of the mental side of things; a change of routine and new challenges. That gives you a new motivation and freshness,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kirwan remains hopeful that Nonu will choose to stay with the Blues and says he expects to get an answer later this week.

"They [NZRU] have given him an extension to when he gets home from South Africa on Tuesday," Kirwan said. "So I would be expecting some sort of answer out of the NZRU by the end of the week and I'm OK with that."

A perfect scenario for Kirwan would be for Nonu to team up in the midfield with Mils Muliaina next season. Muliaina, 32, has been playing in Japan but the All Blacks centurion has been offered a contract to join the Blues next season.

Fairfax NZ News

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
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LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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