Squire linked with move to Japan

Liam Squire's had a poor run with injury over the past few years for both the Highlanders and the...
Liam Squire's had a poor run with injury over the past few years for both the Highlanders and the All Blacks. Photo: Getty Images

Liam Squire is the latest Highlander and All Black linked with a move offshore and all signs point to a move north after the World Cup.

Squire is off contract with New Zealand Rugby and the Highlanders at the end of the season and will be looking to cash in and move to Japanese Top League rugby.

It was reported by Stuff yesterday he had signed a deal with an unnamed Japanese club.

Squire moving to Japan is not unexpected. At 28, he is getting on in years and the less physical approach of Japanese club rugby may suit his body.

The abrasive blindside flanker has had a poor run with injury over the past few years for both the Highlanders and the All Blacks.

Squire started in 40 games over the past three seasons. That is out of a possible 95 games he could have played for the Highlanders and the All Blacks.

The Tasman man has spent time on the sideline for knee, hand and shoulder injuries, for both the Highlanders and the All Blacks.

In 2017, he had a knee injury at the start of the season and then broke his thumb in South Africa while playing for the Highlanders. That forced him to miss the British and Irish Lions series.

Last year, he was hampered by a broken thumb which he damaged early on in the season. It did not reset properly and he was forced to miss more time than expected.

He also missed games at the back end of the Rugby Championship due to a hand injury. He played against Japan and England but went off in the first half in the loss to Ireland in November after suffering a knee injury.

Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Squire joined the Highlanders in 2016 and the keen hunter has enjoyed his time in the South, exploring the outdoors. He has a big season in front of him as he looks to make the World Cup squad.

Squire is not expected to be the last key player leaving the Highlanders at the end of the year. With contracts up for players such as Luke Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Waisake Naholo, the side may lose some of its most valuable players. Richard Buckman and Tom Franklin are also expected to head to Japan permanently.

Ben Smith has already announced he is off to France although he is also expected to end up in Japan.

The Japanese attraction concerns a double pay day. With the World Cup in the country this year, the 2019 season has been delayed until the early months of next year. The normal season is then scheduled to be played again at the end of 2020.


 

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