Rugby: All Blacks great Carter, 38, announces retirement from professional rugby

All Blacks Dan Carter was named International Rugby Player of the Year three times in his career. PHOTO: DAN CARTER/INSTAGRAM

(REUTERS) - New Zealand's World Cup-winning flyhalf Dan Carter announced on Saturday (Feb 20) his retirement from professional rugby after an illustrious 19-year career.

The 38-year-old, capped 112 times by New Zealand, played his last Test in 2015 when he produced a man-of-the-match display to help the All Blacks to victory over Australia in the World Cup final.

The flyhalf was also part of the New Zealand team that won the 2011 edition of the tournament, though he missed the final after tearing his groin tendon.

He leaves the game as the highest point scorer in test rugby with 1,598, more than 350 points clear of England's Jonny Wilkinson.

"I officially retire from professional rugby today," Carter wrote on Twitter.

"A sport I've played 32 years which has helped shape me into the person I am today. I can't thank everyone who has played a part in my journey enough, particularly you, the fans.

"Rugby will always be a part of my life."

Carter was named International Rugby Player of the Year three times in his career, equalling the record held by longtime teammate and skipper Richie McCaw.

After his international retirement, he enjoyed a three-year spell with Racing 92 in Paris followed by two seasons with the Kobe Steelers in Japan.

He returned to New Zealand last year for a brief stint with the Auckland Blues.

Carter told the New Zealand Herald he no longer had the motivation to push himself as hard as necessary to be competitive in New Zealand rugby.

"I play to be the best player out on the field," he said. "That is my drive and it always has been and I just didn't have that drive back here in New Zealand."

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