Japan’s first World Cup hero Ayumu Goromaru has announced the next Japanese Top League season will be his last, confirming that he will retire after Yamaha Jubilo finishes the season.

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Goromaru was the star of Japan’s 2015 Rugby World Cup side where he scored a try and kicked seven goals for a total of 24 points in the Brave Blossoms historic pool stage win over the Springboks in Brighton.

The miraculous performance catapulted Goromaru to stardom, particularly in his home nation of Japan where he became the face of the Rugby. Goromaru’s World Cup form led to interest overseas, where the fullback landed with the Queensland Reds in 2016 for one Super Rugby season before joining with the French glamour club Toulon.

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Goromaru wasn’t able to replicate the success he had with the Japan national side with those clubs, although it could be said he pioneered the pathway for Japan’s players to sign outside of the Top League. Japan’s latest World Cup star, Kotaro Matsushima, is currently at French club Clermont ASM in the Top 14.

“I’m sad to finish my time as a player but I’ve been running with all of my strength for 32 years (since starting rugby),” Goromaru told a press conference in Japan.

“I only have enough competitive will and physical strength left for this one last season.”

“In the season I have left, I will play for all I’m worth and with a sense of gratitude in my heart.”

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The former Japanese fullback said he did not have enough ‘spirit’ left despite having the physical strength to keep playing, which he explained an athlete needs to remain playing at the top level.

“If I don’t have my emotions, I can probably play,” he said. “But an athlete needs spirit, not just physical strength. I feel my spirit has declined and thought it would be best for myself and those who are associated with me to step aside.”

The 34-year-old fullback will turn 35 during the season in March, and said he had always planned to retire at that age from the day he originally joined the Yamaha club as a 22-year-old.

“I signed a professional contract with a great team like Yamaha Jubilo when I was 22 and at that moment, I made up my mind about this,” Goromaru said.

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“Ever since that day, I knew this day was coming. So it wasn’t the last few months or few years that I came to the decision, I’ve planned this over a much longer period.”

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