All Black fly-half Dan Carter has denied that he has signed a deal to play his rugby in Japan.
The Canterbury Crusader said the claims were untrue, but refused to rule out a move to the league, which has quickly become one of the best-paying in the world.
Securing the services of the 31-year-old would be a major coup for any team in Japan and would go a long way to increasing the exposure of the game in the nation, ahead of the 2019 World Cup which will be held in Japan for the first time.
Carter is reportedly under contract in New Zealand until 2015, but has a clause that would allow him a sabbatical, which could be spent playing elsewhere in the world.
International stars Sonny Bill Williams, Jerome Kaino, Richard Kahui and Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu have all been tempted by the big money in Japan in the past.
But it seems that Carter is just keen to keep his options open at the moment, with his management and agent talking to clubs around the world about potential future moves.
"(They) are just throwing it out there, and talking to a few clubs and players," he told reporters after training with his Super 15 club the Canterbury Crusaders.
He added: "I am nowhere near signing any deal or getting closer to deciding what I am going to do or whether I take my sabbatical or not. I am still not any closer to making a decision."
One All Black that has signed a deal to play in Japan is Adam Thompson, who recently confirmed a move to Canon Eagles.
He joins former Highlanders team-mates Callum Bruce and Kane Thompson at the club, as well as former All Black Isaia Toeava at the club, indicating just how popular Japan is becoming with New Zealand players.
"I'm excited to be embarking on the next stage of my career with the Canon Eagles in 2013 but jointly saddened to be closing a significant chapter of my life," Thomson said in a statement.
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