All Blacks legend Dan Carter is set to finish his career in Japan with Kobe Kobelco Steelers, sources told Kyodo News on Thursday.
Media reports earlier in the week in both France, where the three-time World Rugby Player of the Year currently plays for Racing 92, and New Zealand said Carter is set to sign a contract with a Top League side once he completes his three-year stint in Paris in June.
The 35-year-old two-time Rugby World Cup winner recently told a fan on social media he hoped to play for another two years before returning home to New Zealand.
Signing with the Jim McKay-coached Steelers would see Carter reunite with Andy Ellis, his longtime halfback partner with both the All Blacks and the Crusaders.
Kobe also has a relationship with Wayne Smith, a former coach with both New Zealand and the Canterbury-based Super Rugby side, and wears playing kit made by Adidas, which has a sponsorship deal with Carter.
The mercurial No. 10 — the highest scorer in test match history with 1,598 in 112 games for New Zealand — was in Japan two weeks ago in his role as an ambassador for Mastercard, one of the sponsors of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and he has made no secret of his love for the country.
“Traveling for some sponsorship work to a country I enjoy very much,” he tweeted on Nov. 5 prior to flying from Paris to Tokyo.
After guiding the All Blacks to their second straight Rugby World Cup win in 2015, Carter joined Racing on a deal worth €1.5 million ($1.7 million) a year, making him the world’s highest paid rugby player.