Gloucester Rugby have confirmed that Japan-bound Franco Marais will return to Kingsholm until the end of the season.

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Marais is among four Gloucester players that are heading to the Japanese Top League. Tom Marshall, Franco Mostert and Owen Williams will are also heading to the far east; while former head coach Johan Ackermann also left the club to take up a position with the NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in July.

The 27-year-old hooker has previously made 35 appearances for the Cherry & Whites and he will now look to add to that tally before heading to the Red Hurricanes in the Japanese Top League at the conclusion of the 2019-20 Gallagher Premiership campaign.

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The 6’1, 108g front-rower will re-join the squad for training on Monday, as preparations continue for the eagerly anticipated restart.

Marais provided real competition for places in the hooker position as he made 19 first team appearances in his first season at Kingsholm, including 16 in the Gallagher Premiership.

Described by the Sharks Super Rugby franchise as a player ‘destined for a big career’, Marais was part of the South African U20 squad that won the World Rugby U20 Championship on home soil in 2012, before going on to make his Sharks debut that season in both the Absa Currie Cup and then into Super Rugby.

Marais began the 2018 Super Rugby season as the Sharks’ first-choice hooker, and impressed in the opening rounds with his work at the lineout, physicality around the field and prowess around the breakdown area.

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