Captain Kieran Read has announced that he will end his New Zealand career after the Rugby World Cup and move to Japanese club Toyota Verblitz.
The powerhouse number eight has played in 118 Test matches, with 43 of those coming as captain, since making his debut in November 2008 – winning the World Cup twice.
Read will play his last season in Super Rugby for Crusaders to ply his trade in Japan.
The 33-year-old said: “Every young rugby player in New Zealand dreams of the opportunities I have had to represent the All Blacks and the Crusaders, and I know I’ll look back at the end of the year with a great deal of pride to have worn those jerseys for as long as I have.
Thanks for the memories, Reado!
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) March 6, 2019
“My family and I are looking forward to an overseas experience and Japan presents an awesome opportunity to immerse ourselves in Japanese culture as part of the Toyota club.
“I feel the time is right to make this announcement on my playing future, so that I can focus my efforts on the season ahead.”
Read will look to sign off by lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time in Japan.
The 2013 World Rugby Player of the Year oversaw a record 19 consecutive wins as skipper and is joint-third on the all-time list of New Zealand appearances.
New Zealand rugby chief executive Steve Tew added: “We want to wish Kieran all the very best for his swansong season in New Zealand Rugby.
“He’s been one of the most influential players in the world in his 13 years at the top of the professional game, an outstanding and hugely-respected All Blacks Captain, and an All Blacks centurion.
“We owe ‘Reado’ and others like him, who have given so much to our teams, a huge debt of gratitude. We wish him, wife Bridget and his family all the best for their adventures next year.”
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