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Greig Laidlaw set for long-awaited Japanese debut

By Josh Raisey

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Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw is set to make his debut for NTT Communications Shining Arcs this weekend in the first round of the Top League season.

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The 35-year-old signed for the Japanese outfit in July 2020, but it has been a long wait for the season to start. He will be facing Toshiba Brave Lupus this Saturday in the first round of the campaign.

The Scot could potentially form a decisive half-back partnership with former Australia fly-half Christian Lealiifano, who is another landmark signing for Shining Arcs. The Wallaby is entering his second season in Japan, having arrived after the 2019 World Cup.

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What is life like in Japan for a pro player?
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What is life like in Japan for a pro player?

It has been a ten month wait for the Top League to resume after the 2020 campaign was cancelled in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This upcoming regular season now is scheduled to run until April, with the final on May 23rd.

This will be the fourth club Laidlaw has played for in his career, having previously played for Edinburgh, Gloucester and ASM Clermont Auvergne.

Laidlaw’s three-year stay at Clermont was brought to a premature end in 2020 when the Top 14 season was also annulled after only 17 rounds. That means his last league fixture was a 32-15 win over Agen last February.

He announced his Test retirement after the 2019 RWC, where his 76th and final match was a 28-21 loss to tournament hosts Japan in the pool stages. He captained Scotland on that occasion, and will come up against his opposing captain that night, Michael Leitch, this weekend.

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The scrum-half is one of many new signings that will be on show this January, although All Black Beauden Barrett’s arrival has garnered the most attention. The Kiwi has signed for Suntory Sungoliath, who face Laidlaw’s Shining Arcs in round three.

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Top League    

Greig Laidlaw set for long-awaited Japanese debut

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