Cape Town - All
Blacks captain Kieran Read and midfielder Ryan Crotty are off to
Japanese clubs after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Aaron Smith and Dane Coles
could follow, according to European media reports.
According to the Stuff website, France's daily sports newspaper L'Equipe
reported on Monday that Read would not be joining Paris club Racing 92
for the 2019/20 season and was now likely to join a Japanese club.
France's Rugby Rama
website said Read, 33, was being linked to the Toyota Verblitz club
while Crotty, 30, was set to sign for the Kubota Spears in a deal to be
announced this week by New Zealand Rugby.
Rugby Rama also claimed Read and Crotty would be followed by Smith, 30, and Coles, 32.
All Blacks have traditionally lost senior players after Rugby World Cup
campaigns, but the moves to Japan represent a new trend.
Five members of the All Blacks' last World Cup winning squad - Conrad
Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Charlie Faumuina, Victor Vito and Colin Slade -
joined French clubs after the 2015 tournament, and five more - Aaron
Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea, Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam and
Tawera Kerr-Barlow have since followed the path to France.
Nehe Milner-Skudder has also agreed a three-year deal with Toulon after the 2019 World Cup.
New Zealand, like England, but in contrast to South Africa's policy, do not select overseas-based players for their national team.
If Read does join Toyota Verblitz, he will play under South Africa's 2007 Rugby World Cup winning coach Jake White.
Crotty would be coached by another South African, Frans Ludeke, at