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Pablo Matera lands in Japan's second division

By Tom Vinicombe
(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Pablo Matera has traded Super Rugby Pacific for the second division of Japan’s Rugby League One competition next season.

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The Argentinian international was a key figure for the Crusaders throughout this year’s title-winning competition, featuring in 14 matches as the Cantabrians claimed their fifth trophy under the tutelage of Scott Robertson.

While a number of clubs were unsurprisingly courting the services of Matera following his stint with the Crusaders – including last year’s Gallagher Premiership cellar dwellers, Bath – the 29-year-old has instead committed to the Mie Heat, who finished third in the second division of this year’s League One in 2022.

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Matera will be joined at the Suzuka-based club by Wallabies fullback Tom Banks, who has called time on his Super Rugby career – at least for the moment – following six years with the Brumbies.

Matera is currently in the throes of a fiercely contested Rugby Championship campaign, with Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all level on two wins and two losses. Banks would likely be playing a similarly important role for the Wallabies but broke his arm while playing against England in July.

While Banks has effectively been a one-club man until signing for the Heat, Matera has travelled the world representing teams from all corners of the globe.

Prior to linking up with the Crusaders, Matera spent two seasons with Stade Francais in the Top 14. When Argentina were represented at Super Rugby level, Matera was a talismanic figure for the Jaguares – who came within a whisker of pipping the Crusaders to the post in the 2019 competition. The loose forward got his professional start in England, however, clocking up a handful of appearances for Leicester Tigers.

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With both Matera and Banks on board, the Mie Heat will be aiming to earn promotion to the top flight of Japan’s relatively new competition at the end of the upcoming season. They came within a whisker of achieving just that this year, slipping up against the Green Rockets in their play-off battle.

The coming iteration of League One is set to kick off in December this year.

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