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Ardie Savea switches to Japan and he's explained why

Ardie Savea, captain of The Hurricanes rugby union team, gestures during a press conference at the NZCIS training grounds at Upper Hutt in Wellington on February 1, 2023. - (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

New Zealand forward Ardie Savea says the opportunity to earn a significant payday was the main reason behind his decision to join Japan’s Kobelco Kobe Steelers after the Rugby World Cup this year.


Savea, who has played 70 times for the All Blacks, will lead the Wellington Hurricanes into the upcoming Super Rugby season and will make the move to Japan once the Rugby World Cup has been completed in France in October.

“Plain and simple – to set up my family. The money’s good, I’m not going to lie,” Savea said of his reason for the switch.

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“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.”

Savea is one of several high-profile All Blacks who will leave Ne w Zealand to play in Japan, with Richie Mo’unga previously announcing he will join Tokyo-based Toshiba Brave Lupus with his All Blacks teammate Shannon Frizell.


Others are expected to follow upon the conclusion of the World Cup and Savea admitted he wanted to sign-off on the move as soon as possible to avoid missing out on the opportunity.

“To be honest, I just put the feelers out and whatever club came first that was interested I was just keen to get a signed deal,” said Savea.

“Obviously, it’s post-World Cup so there are so many players looking to go to Japan and international quotas would get filled up so I just wanted to get in early.”


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RUGBYPASS+ The major Six Nations concern for Wales and England ahead of RWC 2023 The major Six Nations concern for Wales and England ahead of RWC 2023