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Blues skipper heading overseas

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Blues skipper heading overseas

2018 Blues captain Augustine Pulu is bound for Japan, joining the newly promoted Hino Red Dolphins in the Top Challenge League.

Pulu is joined by Blues teammate and fellow former All Black Pauliasi Manu.

Of the signing, Pulu said “I am very pleased to join Hino Red Dolphins and live in Japan with my family,” in a statement issued on the team website.

“It was a big decision for me and my family, but I am feeling good about becoming a member of the Hino Red Dolphins, who have great potential to win after last year,” he continued.

“I would like to contribute so that Hino Red Dolphins can establish a solid position in the Top League inside and outside the pitch. I really appreciate being part of a team with an amazing coaching staff, players and culture.”

Pulu’s career began his the provincial career with Counties Manukau in 2010, and he has captained and represented the side over 60 times. The former All Black was not named in the side’s squad for 2018, with Jonathan Taumateine, Liam Daniela and Siaosi Nginingini listed as halfbacks.

After a five-year Super Rugby stint with the Chiefs starting in 2012, the 28-year-old joined the Blues in 2017 and was named captain by head coach Tana Umaga at the start of the 2018 season, replacing the incumbent James Parsons.

He joined the Auckland-based Super Rugby club on a two-year deal at the end of 2016, and is off the books following the conclusion of the current season.

Pulu hinted at his departure with a cryptic Instagram caption last month, posting “One last ride with @jeromekaino and my @bluesrugbyteam” on after the Blues’ final match of the season. Though Pulu’s caption may have been alluding to the departure of flanker Jerome Kaino, who is joining French club Toulouse, it now seems likely that it was indeed the halfback’s last ride with the team.

One last ride with @jeromekaino and my @bluesrugbyteam ????????#hoka #bless #2018

A post shared by Augustine Pulu (@augustine_pulu) on

Following Pulu’s departure, the Blues will have concerns in the No. 9 jersey, with Sam Nock and Jonathan Ruru also off-contract.

22-year-old Nock signed a three-year deal with the club in 2015 following a standout year at Auckland’s Saint Kentigern College, while 25-year-old Ruru signed at the start of 2018 after impressing with Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Pulu was capped for the All Blacks twice in 2014, but failed to solidify his place in the national side.

Other career highlights include the two Super Rugby titles he claimed with the Chiefs in 2012 and 2013, and his representation of New Zealand in rugby sevens at the Olympic Games in 2016.

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Blues skipper heading overseas