Clermont have unveiled the arrival of their summer signing Kotaro Matsushima from Suntory Sungoliath. The Top 14 outfit shared a photo from Stade Marcel Michelin on social media and the Japanese winger is set to start training on Monday. 

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This may not have been a signing that carried much fanfare this time last year, but the 27-year-old’s stock rose dramatically after the World Cup. As Jamie Joseph’s side took the tournament by storm, Matsushima showed what a high-grade finisher he is. 

Although the Brave Blossoms succumbed to eventual world champions South Africa in the quarter-finals, Matsushima finished with a haul of five tries, the third-most in the tournament. It included his hat-trick against Russia in the opening match. 

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French outfit Clermont signed Matsushima in January and his arrival now comes with a lot of anticipation, particularly with the departures of Nick Abendanon and Remy Grosso this summer from the Top 14 club. 

Having played for Toulouse’s under-21 team in 2011, this is not the first time Matsushima will be exposed to French rugby, which is stylistically different from the Top League. 

The circumstances are vastly different from the beginning of his career, though. He is now a recognised star of the game and there is a large degree of expectation to see what he can bring in central France. 

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In a varied career, he has also played in South Africa for the Sharks and Australia for the Melbourne Rebels, as well as his six years in Tokyo. 

After the 2019/20 Top 14 season was completely annulled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, preparations are underway for the new season that is set to start in September. 

Clermont will also be preparing for a home Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Racing 92. Meanwhile, the Top League season in Japan was also abandoned in March.

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