All Blacks captain Read leaving NZ rugby

All Blacks captain Kieran Read will play for Japanese club Toyota Verblitz after the World Cup ends in November. The Kiwis are going for their third straight title

Steve Hansen saluted Kieran Read as "one of the greats of our game" after the New Zealand captain made a decision to end his worldwide career following the Rugby World Cup.

They play some of their home games at Toyota Stadium, which will host four matches during the World Cup, including New Zealand's pool clash with Italy.

"My family and I are looking forward to an overseas experience and Japan presents an awesome opportunity to immerse ourselves in Japanese..."

'I said it at the time when we played Ireland that whoever won that game was going to be viewed as the number one team in the world and everyone is going to chase them, Hansen said in comments published by New Zealand media yesterday.

He was named World Rugby's Player of the Year in 2013, and has Rugby World Cup winners' medals from 2011 and 2015 in his trophy cabinet.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen lavished praise on Read and is hoping for him to sign off from worldwide rugby on a high.

The 2013 global player of the year has been a world leader among loose forwards since his worldwide debut in 2008.

"He's been one of the most influential players in the world in his 13 years at the top of the professional game, an outstanding and hugely respected All Blacks Captain, and an All Blacks centurion".

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen praised Read's leadership on and off the field.

New Zealand captain Kieran Read revealed that being closer to home and having a less hectic schedule were his main reasons for snubbing European clubs in favour of a move to Japan. "We have also (announced) the signing of Willie Le Roux on March 4".

According to reports from South Africa, Smal, who helped White coach South Africa to victory at the 2007 World Cup, has been lined up to replace his former boss.

"I think it is always hard leaving a place that I have been a part of for a number of years", he said.

He has started in 111 of his 118 Tests and been captain on 43 occasions, taking charge in 2016 after the departure of fellow-Crusaders loose forward McCaw, whose final act in rugby was to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a second-straight time.



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