Wellington - All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter on Wednesday announced he had signed a four-year contract to stay in New Zealand after this year's Rugby World Cup but retained an option to play overseas.
VIDEO: Dan Carter commits to the All Blacks
The 29-year-old, who was reportedly fielding lucrative offers from French clubs, said he agonised over his future before sealing a deal which ties him to the All Blacks until the 2015 World Cup in England.
"There were a few different reasons for signing but the underlying factor was the black jersey," he told reporters.
"If I went overseas I would not be able to wear the black jersey and that was a big reason for staying."
New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief executive Steve Tew hailed Carter's retention as a major coup given the level of interest from overseas clubs in one of the sport's highest-profile players.
"We are absolutely delighted Dan has chosen to continue his career in New Zealand and we have the utmost respect for him, knowing he had some serious options to consider," Tew said in a statement.
Tew said the NZRU adopted a "flexible" approach when negotiating Carter's contract to ensure the 29-year-old star stayed in the country.
"We have built in options for Dan to take an extended break from the game if he so wishes -- whether that's to take a break from rugby or play overseas -- and he will discuss that with us at the right time," he said.
Carter, who had a brief spell with French club Perpignan in 2008-09 cut short by injury, said he had given no thought to how he would spend the sabbatical built into his new contract.
"I haven't looked at anything at all like whether I went back to Europe or to Japan or even just took a break," the 79-Test veteran said.
Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal said last year that Carter had risked pricing himself beyond French clubs by demanding 1.2 million euros ($1.7 million) a season.
Financial terms of the NZRU contract were not revealed but Tew said the NZRU could not match the amounts that were offered by overseas clubs.
Warren Alcock, from Carter's management company, Essentially Group, said it had been the most comprehensive individual contract he had been involved in negotiating.
"It has a level of detail and complexity that we haven't faced in New Zealand before," he said.
Carter made his All Blacks debut in 2003 and is currently the second highest points scorer in Test history after England's Jonny Wilkinson, with 1188 points.
The NZRU's attention is now likely to shift to All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, who is yet to reveal his intentions after this year's World Cup, which will be played in New Zealand from September 9-October 23.