Japanese gig for Cane over Super Rugby season

Sam Cane sits on the sideline at the Rugby World Cup final after getting a red card. Photo: Getty...
Sam Cane sits on the sideline at the Rugby World Cup final after getting a red card. Photo: Getty Images
All Blacks captain Sam Cane will miss Super Rugby Pacific to take up a short-term contract playing rugby in Japan with South Africa's World Cup-winner Cheslin Kolbe as teammate.

The Chiefs co-captain will exercise an option in his contract with NZ Rugby allowing him to take time away from New Zealand and play in Japan.

He will join Kolbe playing at Tokyo Sungoliath.

Chiefs CEO Simon Graafhuis told The New Zealand Herald the team would be “obviously gutted to lose him for the season”.

“He adds so much to the environment on and off the field - but he goes with our blessing, and hoping he comes back in 25 in the same form as this year.”

The stint in Japan would finish in time for Cane to join the All Blacks season under new coach Scott Robertson.

Cane is signed with New Zealand Rugby until 2025 and has an option to take a non-playing or playing break.

NZ Rugby is expected to make a statement about Cane later today.

Super Rugby squads are due to be named on Thursday next week. 

Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea also has a sabbatical for next year, and will play at Kobe in the upcoming season, while Codie Taylor and Jordie Barrett could yet take up options to play spells offshore.

Savea will be one of several big names leaving New Zealand this year. 

Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders), Shannon Frizell (Highlanders) and Pita Gus Sowakula (Chiefs) have all had moves offshore confirmed, while there have been reports that Chiefs duo Brad Weber and Brodie Retallick will also head abroad.

When Savea announced his move he said he was happy to sign the dotted line of a lucrative deal and set up his family.

The 70-test All Blacks flanker was honest about his decision.

“Plain and simple - [it’s] to set up my family. The money’s good, I’m not going to lie,” Savea said.

“It’s an opportunity to set up my family and also to try something new. It’s a bit of a challenge and hopefully it puts me on my toes.

“Not that I’m not on my toes here, but there’s just something about going into a new environment and feeling young and being a rookie again.

“Hopefully that sparks something in me to keep going for a few more years.”

Going offshore is becoming common not only for players later in their career, with those in their prime also now beginning to look for opportunities in the offshore market on a short-term basis and return home after a season away.