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All Blacks captain Read leaving NZ rugby

All Blacks skipper Kieran Read has confirmed he will leave New Zealand to play club rugby in Japan after this year's World Cup.

All Blacks captain Read leaving NZ rugby

All Blacks skipper Kieran Read has confirmed he will leave New Zealand to play club rugby in Japan after this year's World Cup.

KIERAN READ of the All Blacks is tackled during The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth, New Zealand.
KIERAN READ of the All Blacks is tackled during The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Picture:Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Battle-weary All Blacks captain Kieran Read says the intensity of club rugby in Europe didn't appeal in the twilight stages of his career, which is why he will wind things up in Japan.

Read confirmed on Wednesday he had signed a two-season deal with Toyota Verblitz in the Japanese Top League, beginning after this year's World Cup.


The champion No.8 had already indicated the four-yearly showpiece would be his international swan song but speculation surrounded whether he would follow the path of most leading All Blacks and head to a French or English club.

He said Japan appealed to him and his wife.

"With three kids and a family it is a lot closer to home," Read told reporters in his home town Christchurch.

"And for my age, and my body, in terms of the amount of footy you play there compared to Europe and the UK. They are probably the main reasons."

Read will be 34 when he takes up the deal, the same age that his illustrious predecessor as All Blacks skipper, Richie McCaw, chose to retire from the game.

Having racked up 118 Tests and 145 Super Rugby matches for the Crusaders, it is no surprise that injuries have caught up with Read in recent seasons, with back surgery having eaten into his minutes and performance level last year.

Such is his value, he has been granted an extended off-season this year which won't end until at least round six of Super Rugby.

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

While he is regarded as one of rugby's premier lineout exponents and an explosive ball runner, Read's leadership had become his greatest asset, according to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

"He's developed into a fantastic leader who has the utmost respect of all his peers," he said.

"What he has achieved has been remarkable, and it's fair to say that he is one of the greats of our game."

The All Blacks have prevailed in 37 Tests under Read's captaincy at an 87 per cent win rate, bettered only by McCaw's 89 per cent for skippers of all nations to have led on more than 20 occasions.

AAP


AAP




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