Dixon's decision to choose Japan all about family

Elliot Dixon in action at training at Logan Park yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Elliot Dixon in action at training at Logan Park yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The Japanese threat continues to grow and may become even more of a menace to New Zealand rugby.

Highlanders loose forward Elliot Dixon confirmed yesterday he has signed a two-year deal with Ricoh Black Rams and will head there in October to play in the Japan Top League.

Dixon played for the Rams in the previous Japanese season which finished in late January this year.

He then came back to the Highlanders and, after some conditioning work, has played 10 games this year, including seven starts. He played his 100th game for the side last month.

That avenue of playing for two teams in the same year may now be closed because of the changing of the Japanese season.

With the World Cup in Japan from September to November, the Japan league has been switched to a January start and will clash with Super Rugby next year.

There have been suggestions another season will be played in the second half of the year - bringing two seasons in the calendar year, and a lucrative payday for many players.

But that appears to have been ruled out. The suggestion is the next three seasons in Japan are set to be played in the first half of the year, directly clashing with the Super Rugby season.

Dixon (29) said the season structure was still undecided in Japan but it appeared to be the end of being able to play in two competitions back to back.

''At the moment the competition is pretty cool over there. The Top League is awesome to play and then you can come back again and play for a season for the Highlanders again. But not sure if we are going to be able to do that,'' Dixon said.

''I would love to do that but it hasn't worked out that way so I'm going to head off to Japan.''

Dixon is one of seven Highlanders from this season's original squad who will play in Japan next season.

He will be joined by locks Tom Franklin and Jackson Hemopo, loose forward Liam Squire, first five-eighth Marty Banks, midfielder Richard Buckman and winger Tevita Li, who has joined Suntory.

Dixon said the attraction was for his family.

''It's just about setting myself and the family up. I'm not getting any younger. The kids love it over there. My wife loves it over there.

''It is a new culture to embrace and travel the world. There are some cool places over there that you can travel to within a couple of hours.''

Ricoh has Dixon's former Southland and Highlanders team-mate, Robbie Robinson, on its books along with another former Highlander in loose forward Colin Bourke. Michael Broadhurst is also on the books. Ricoh is based in Tokyo, which Dixon said he enjoyed.

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