Rugby-Carter announces he is leaving Japan's Kobe Steelers

TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) - Three-time World Player of the Year Dan Carter announced he was leaving Japanese Top League side Kobe Steelers in an Instagram post on Friday.

The New Zealander, who won the Top League in his first season with Kobe last year, signed a two-year contract with the club in 2018 but, with Japan’s domestic season cancelled due to the new coronavirus outbreak, his time in the country looks to be over.

However, the 38-year-old fly-half didn’t make it clear whether he was retiring completely from the game.

When Top League cancelled the remainder of the season because of COVID-19 in March, Kobe were joint top of the league with six wins from six.

“I’ve gone a bit quiet since the JRU announced they are cancelling all their competitions this season,” Carter wrote on Instagram.

“I know it’s the right decision with what the world is going through at the moment but I would have loved to try help my @kobelcosteelers_official family win another top league, and I’m gutted I can’t do this.”

“I want to thank the club, fans and my team mates for welcoming me and making the last two seasons some of the most enjoyable rugby I have ever played.

“The club’s future is looking very bright, and I’m glad I got to add my little piece to the @kobelcosteelers_official legacy,” he concluded.

Carter is one of just two players to win the World Player of the Year award three times, alongside compatriot Richie McCaw, and he has also won the Rugby World Cup twice.

In the 2015 final against Australia, Carter scored 19 points and was named player of the match.

He made 112 appearance’s for New Zealand, amassing 1,598 points and becoming the highest points scorer in test match rugby. (Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Ken Ferris)