Cheetahs lock Rory Duncan is heading to Japan.
Duncan led the Cheetahs to Currie Cup glory last year, while he also captained the Super 14 team this year when Juan Smith was injured. Duncan is leaving next month for the Jubilo Yamaha Club on a two-year contract, and he will join up with ex-All Black captain Reuben Thorne.
“There are obvious financial benefits to going there, but my wife and I also wanted a different experience. Japan will be something new and refreshing and that is something to look forward to,” Duncan told keo.co.za.
Duncan also had offers to go to the Northampton Saints and Glasgow Warriors, but had his reasons for deciding on Japan.
“I played a couple of years in Scotland a while ago and this opportunity will be much different to that. Financially it is also better in Japan. To be honest I have never watched a game of Japanese club rugby on video, but I’ve read a lot about the league and spoke to a few guys about the rugby. It’s apparently slightly quicker than what we play over here, so again, it’ll be something new,” said Duncan.
A fortnight ago lock-partner Barend Pieterse announced his retirement from rugby for the end of this season, and Duncan joins a long list of Cheetahs who have left union in the last year. But Duncan is confident the Cheetahs can make a successful defence of their Currie Cup title.
“The Currie Cup is always different to the Super 14, and Free State are used to losing players. We always have the habit of pulling out some magic young guys and this year will be no different. The guys are young, but they have experience in the Currie Cup and they won’t go into the competition wide-eyed,” he said.
By Grant Ball