French club Racing 92 could be ditched at the altar as All Blacks captain weighs up another potential suitor for his services at the end of 2019.

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RMC Sport is reporting that Parisian club Racing fears they may miss out Read as Japanese Top League clubs come to the table in search of his signature. He has signalled next year would be his last with the All Blacks, which has triggered an arms race for the Number 8 by overseas clubs.

Racing was believed to have tabled a massive NZD$2 million per season three-year deal following next year’s Rugby World Cup, which was thought to have been whittled down to a more manageable seven-month contract starting in November 2019 to finish the season.

The 33-year-old Read has faced significant layoffs due to back injuries in recent times that may prevent his ability to commit playing long-term, making a short-term agreement preferable.

The demands of the Top 14 would also be considered, making a trip to the less onerous Japanese Top League an attractive proposition.

The reports suggest that Read could join former All Black and Crusader Dan Carter at Kobeco Steelers, who won their first Top League title since the initial 2003/04 season last week with a convincing 55-5 win over Suntory. The Top League has a shorter season and less physical demands than European Rugby, as well as close proximity to New Zealand.

The French clubs are considering changing their recruitment laws to allow one marquee player to sit outside of the agreed salary cap, which could be made in time to counter offers from other competitions such as the Top League. If the laws are changed, it could spark an uncapped bidding war for Read to ensure he lands in France.

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