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'Can't wait to get to work': Ngani Laumape confirms his new club

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Just weeks after negotiating the early termination of his Top 14 contract with Stade Francais, former All Blacks midfielder Ngani Laumape will be off on his travels again as he has confirmed a three-year deal to play for Kobe Steelers in Japan. 


It was August 1 when it was agreed in France that Laumape, the 29-year-old who won the last of his 15 New Zealand Test caps in November 2020, would not be playing in the 2022/23 Top 14 as the club were allowing him to leave just a year into his three-year deal due to family reasons. 

“Thank you Stade Francais for the opportunity. Got to meet some amazing people during my time in Paris which I’ll never forget. Merci. Wish you guys all the best for the upcoming season,” wrote Laumape at the time of his departure from the Top 14 club he played 22 games with following his 2021 arrival from the Hurricanes.

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He had since toyed with fans, initially asking them where they would like to see him play next season and then also tweeting that he was back in Wellington and that he got “goosebumps driving past Sky Stadium”.

However, the Hurricanes won’t be his home in 2023 as Laumape has now tweeted his delight that a deal has been signed with Kobe Steelers, Dan Carter’s former Top League team. “Excited for the next three seasons, Kobe Steelers. Can’t wait to get to work with the team.” 

Laumape gave a more considered reaction on the Kobe website, telling the Japanese club’s fans: “I am excited to start a new career with the Kobelco Kobe Steelers. I myself am a fan of Japanese rugby, which continues to grow, and believe that my style fits well with Japanese rugby and the Kobe Steelers. 


“The challenge will continue until the end of the season. I will do my part to bring good results to Kobe Steelers and Steelers fans. I can’t wait to have new experiences in Japan with my family and to share the pitch with my new teammates.”


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