All Black flyhalf to head overseas
TRANSFER NEWS: All Blacks playmaker Brett Cameron has called time on his career in New Zealand by signing a deal to join Japanese club Kamaishi Seawaves next year.
Kamaishi Seawaves confirmed their signing of the 24-year-old flyhalf on Thursday in a move that, for the time being, brings an end to Cameron’s five-season professional spell in New Zealand.
“I’m very excited to sign with Kamaishi Seawaves,” Cameron said via a statement on the club’s website.
“I am looking forward to a new challenge playing rugby in Japan for a team with a proud rugby history, and to be involved in a proud community that has a big love for the game.”
The move abroad comes after Cameron failed to make a single appearance for the Crusaders this season as incumbent pivot Richie Mo’unga and promising youngster Fergus Burke were preferred in the matchday side.
That lack of playing time saw Cameron linked with a move to the Hurricanes, who are in the market for an experienced flyhalf to accompany youngsters Ruben Love and Aidan Morgan in their 2022 squad, but no such move eventuated.
Thank you Brett! Best of luck with your move to Japan 🇯🇵 👊🏼
— Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) July 8, 2021
Cameron’s decision to leave the Crusaders brings and end to a five-year affiliation with the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions, which began in 2016 when he first turned out for the franchise’s development side, the Crusaders Knights.
After going on to make his first-class debut with Canterbury in their title-winning 2017 season, Cameron was called into the senior Crusaders squad to make his Super Rugby debut off the bench against the Bulls in March 2018.
A strong provincial campaign for Canterbury that year led to Cameron’s surprise inclusion in the All Blacks’ end-of-year tour squad to Japan.
With only two dozen first-class appearances for the Crusaders and Canterbury, Cameron made his Test debut when he came off the bench in New Zealand’s 69-31 victory over the Brave Blossoms in Tokyo in November 2018.
The following year, Cameron earned himself a full contract with the Crusaders as he went on to play in five matches as the Christchurch-based outfit claimed their third straight Super Rugby crown.
Cameron played a further seven games for the Crusaders in last year’s COVID-19-disrupted season, with his final outing for the team coming in their Super Rugby Aotearoa title-winning 32-22 victory over the Highlanders in Christchurch.
Cameron leaves the Crusaders with 13 appearances, two Super Rugby titles, two Super Rugby Aotearoa championships and one Test cap to his name.
Cameron isn’t completely lost to New Zealand rugby just yet, though, as it was announced in February that he had signed a deal to play for Manawatu in this year’s NPC, which kicks-off next month.
Formed in 2001, the Kamaishi Seawaves competed in Japan’s second-tier Top Challenge League this season, where they finished in fifth place and missed out on a qualification berth to the Top League play-offs.
As part of the radical overhaul to the Top League next year, Kamaishi Seawaves will compete in the second division of the new three-tiered competition alongside the Kintetsu Liners, Hino Red Dolphins, Honda Heat, Mazda Blue Zoomers and Mitsubishi Dynaboars.
This year’s Kamaishi Seawaves squad featured four New Zealanders – former Southland prop Morgan Mitchell, former Chiefs and Hurricanes flank Sam Henwood, Manawatu playmaker Sam Malcolm and former Auckland age-grade flyhalf Olle Polson.
By Alex McLeod, @RugbyPass