Former All Black Liam Squire’s time in Japan has come to a premature end after the NTT DOCOMO Red Hurricanes loose forward announced he would remain in New Zealand to rehab an injury he suffered during the 2020 Top League season.

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Squire signed with the Red Hurricanes following the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup season and played just three games for the Osaka-based side. The Top League was called to a halt after six rounds due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Squire returned to New Zealand following the cancellation of the Japanese season and a club statement released on Thursday confirmed that the former Highlander would remain in NZ to rehabilitate a lingering injury.

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“I want to let you all know that I’ve made the hard decision to end my time with the Red Hurricanes,” the statement from Squire read.

“I returned to New Zealand for treatment of my injury. I am currently rehabbing to return to field and the doctor has advised me that it is important to take the time to recover well. This decision was not one I took lightly, but is in the best interests of both the team and myself.

“I have enjoyed my time living in Osaka, making new friends and experiencing Japanese culture. I’ll forever be a Red Hurricanes supporter and wish the team all the best for the upcoming season.”

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Squire played 24 matches for New Zealand in an injury-plagued career and was a key member of the Highlanders’ 2015 title-winning squad. He also helped Tasman claim a Mitre 10 Cup Premiership win in his final season with the province last year.

Squire made himself unavailable for the All Blacks at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

While the extent of the 29-year-old’s injury is unknown, next season’s Top League won’t kick off until January next year, which suggests that Squire must be anticipating an especially long rehabilitation period.

There’s been no suggestion that Squire will try and make a return to the New Zealand professional rugby scene and the loose forward may well end up returning to Japan once his rehabilitation is completed.

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