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Recent world player of the year makes Japan switch

By Paul Smith
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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Japanese club Toyota Verblitz have announced the signing of two big name international stars.

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These are headed by South Africa flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit who is joined at the Japan League One (formerly Top League) outfit by All Black second row Patrick Tuipulotu.

Both players will join the Aichi-based club which is coached by former All Black boss Steve Hansen for a season which runs from January to May.

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2019 World Rugby player-of-the-year du Toit is currently recovering from an operation on an injured shoulder.

He hopes to be fit for the Springboks’ Autumn Series test matches against Wales, Scotland and England which take place in November.

“It is a privilege to be part of the team and I hope to justify the faith put in me by giving my very best on and off the field,” du Toit said in a statement.

The 29-year-old back-rower who has more than 50 South Africa caps to his name has played for Cape Town based Super Rugby franchise the Stormers since 2016.

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This followed a spell in England with the Sale Sharks.

Powerhouse lock Tuipulotu has won 38 All Black caps since making his debut against England in 2014. His first international start came later in the same year against the USA.

The 28-year-old 6ft 6 second rower who weighs 120kg has also been part of the Blues franchise since 2014. He has also captained Auckland in the Mitre 10 Cup.

“I am very happy to be joining Toyota Verblitz, and hope I can add value and assist Toyota in their goal of being the best club in Japan,” he said.

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“It will be pleasing to see some familiar faces at the club… I am looking forward to my time in Japan and I am very grateful for this opportunity.”

Japan’s domestic competition was badly hit by Covid-19 in 2020 then reformatted for 2021 when Toyota finished second in the red conference.

They then progressed through two knock-out rounds before losing in the semi-final to eventual champions Wild Knights.

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Recent world player of the year makes Japan switch

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