Cape Town - All Blacks loose forward Liam Squire will join the post-Rugby World Cup gold rush and chase the big money in Japan.
According to the Stuff website, Squire has signed a deal with a club - yet to be made public - and will
snip his ties with the game in New Zealand after the World Cup in Japan later this year.
Although NZ Rugby will be disappointed to lose a player who will be
only 28 when he leaves, it will not be blindsided by his move as it's
understood Squire and his management have kept the organisation informed
of their plans to negotiate with the Japanese club.
Squire is one of a raft of All Blacks back-rowers who are leaving, or considering an exit from New Zealand after the World Cup.
Crusaders blindside flank/No 8 Jordan Taufua, who was selected in the squad
to play France last winter but unable to play because of injury,
announced last weekend that he will join English premiership club
Leicester Tigers at the end of the year.
All Blacks captain and No 8 Kieran Read has already declared he will
probably retire from Tests after the World Cup, and is tipped to sign
for a Japanese club.
Openside flank Matt Todd, who has played 17 Tests, is off contract at
the end of the season and after representing the Robbie Deans-coached
Panasonic Wild Knights last year, may be tempted to return for a longer
stint in Japan.
Another back-rower, Luke Whitelock, who has seven Test caps and led the
All Blacks in the Test against Japan in Tokyo in early November, could
also be considering a move offshore.
Whitelock, who started all three Tests against France in June while
Read was covering from surgery on his spine, slipped down the pecking
order later in the season and was not included in the main squad to tour
the northern hemisphere.
Older brother Sam and his second row partner in Tests, Brodie
Retallick, are also considering sabbaticals with Japanese clubs in 2020.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett has been linked with a similar
deal, which would allow him to skip Super Rugby and some All Blacks
fixtures before returning to New Zealand.