Two Japanese Top League clubs are expected to announce the recruitment of All Blacks captain Kieran Read and All Black centre Ryan Crotty in the coming days, according to French publication RugbyRama.
The Japan Top League continues to attract the biggest names in New Zealand Rugby over cashed-up European clubs with a ‘two for one’ in the offering in the post-World Cup year.
With the Rugby World Cup being hosted in Japan this year, the Top League will run two modified shorter seasons in 2020, offering a double payday to players in the one calendar year. The double-season is offering twice what can be made in France and England in the same 12 months, luring those that would have looked to Europe.
Crusader and All Black midfielder Ryan Crotty was reportedly deep in negotiations with French club Racing before the opportunity to sign Kieran Read presented. Crotty’s negotiations stalled while they went after Read, which opened the door for other potential suitors to come calling for Crotty.
Premiership club Northampton Saints expressed interest in Crotty publicly through Kiwi coach Chris Boyd, however it is now expected Crotty will head to Japan and join the Kubota Spears.
Racing has also come to terms with missing out on Kieran Read, who is expected to join Toyota Verbitz and play under Jake White, joining Crotty in the Top League.
Another two high-profile All Blacks, halfback Aaron Smith and hooker Dane Coles, are rumoured to also be weighing up Top League moves, while Coles is being chased by three French clubs in Lyon, Paris and Montpellier.
Rugby World Cup city guide – Oita:
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