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'One of the exciting things': Kolbe and Cane touched down in Japan

SPOTLIGHT: Just a month after contesting for the World Cup title in the Final, Springbok star-wing Cheslin Kolbe and All Blacks captain Sam Cane have reunited at Tokyo Sungoliath in Japan.

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New Zealand skipper Cane signed a one-season deal with Tokyo Sungoliath.

Cane captained New Zealand at the World Cup but was sent off in last month’s Final as the All Blacks suffered an 11-12 defeat to South Africa.

The 31-year-old has never played for a team based outside his home country and thinks his move to Japan will “test me as a rugby player”.

“A lot of the areas that I want to get better at in my game – speed, agility – are all required in this league,” the loose forward told reporters in Tokyo.

“It will test me to evolve my game and I’m really looking forward to that.”

Cane’s new teammate the South Africa wing Cheslin Kolbe arrived in Japan after six years in France with Toulouse and Toulon.

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Talking about the wing, who scored two tries at the World Cup, Cane said he adds another element of excitement to the tournament.

“That’s one of the exciting things about this competition,” said the 31-year-old.

“You’re playing against a lot of the top Japanese players and a lot of players who come from abroad.”

*Article continues below…

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'One of the exciting things': Kolbe and Cane touched down in Japan

Cane is one of several All Blacks moving to Japan for the new domestic season, which kicks off on December 9.

World Rugby Player of the Year Ardie Savea, flyhalf Richie Mo’unga and fullback Beauden Barrett are also among the new arrivals.

Eligibility rules mean players cannot represent the All Blacks while they are based at overseas clubs.

But Cane’s short-term deal means he will not miss any international games and will be available for selection in June next year.

He said he “had a long chat” with new All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson before leaving for Japan.

“Playing for the All Blacks, you have to earn that by playing well every week,” said Cane.

“I know the All Blacks coaches will be keeping an eye on some of us boys over here.

“The sole focus is just to play well, try and improve as a rugby player and hopefully have the opportunity of returning to the team again.”

*Additional reporting: AFP

 

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