WELLINGTON - Two rich French rugby clubs are locked in a battle to secure the services of All Blacks playmaker Dan Carter in 2014, according to European media.
Carter, 30, is expected to initiate the clause in his New Zealand Rugby Union contract for a "sabbatical" break from rugby in the first half of 2014.
The Rugby Paper website reports that Carter is being wooed to serve a six-month stint in France, similar to the contract he signed with Perpignan for the first half of 2009.
That ended after just four games when Carter suffered a serious Achilles tendon injury but it hasn't stopped French rivals Toulon and Racing Metro chasing the 30-year-old, according to the report.
Paris-based Racing Metro had reportedly offered Carter a lucrative three-year contract before Carter had signed on for a further four years with the NZRU through to the 2015 World Cup.
Their president Jacky Lorenzetti is still pursuing Test rugby's record pointscorer, while Toulon's multi-millionaire owner Mourad Boudjellal has also reportedly entered the fray.
A source in the report said: "Boudjellal has been in contact with Dan's representatives so it will probably come down to a bidding war between them and Metro.
"Metro really want to bring him over and what they have in their favour is that Carter is set to have a young family and Paris would be very attractive in that regard."
Boudjellal already has seasoned internationals Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau and Frederic Michalak as playmaking options in the Toulon ranks.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has begun a six-month break but has said he will spend the time resting and travelling rather than playing overseas.