Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn welcomed a groundbreaking alliance between the Super Rugby franchise and Japanese Top League club Panasonic Wild Knights.
The Queensland Rugby Union announced the bilateral alliance between the two organisations on Monday, with players and staff to undertake international exchanges as well as streamline youth development.
The Reds will travel to Japan next year to play Panasonic, coached by former Wallabies mentor Robbie Deans, in a pre-season match.
“It’s exciting to partner with a powerhouse club like Panasonic,” Thorn said.
“There’s a lot of good people and good things happening at Panasonic. We share similar values and cultures focused on care and connection.
“This is a historic partnership and we’re looking forward to the opportunities and relationships created between the two clubs moving forward.”
The Panasonic club has three players on their books who played their junior rugby in Queensland, with Jack Cornelson, Ben Gunter and Dylan Riley all plucked from Brisbane out of the Queesland system.
The Japan Top League has become a hot destination for Australia players in recent years. Former Queensland Reds players Samu Kerevi, Sam Greene, Isaac Lucas, Harry Hockings, Lolo Fakaosilea, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Sam Talakai, Will Chambers, Mike Harris, Aidan Toua, Jayden Ngamanu, Caderyn Neville are all signed with Top League teams.
Two Japanese internationals, Ayumu Goromaru and Hendrik Tui, have also completed stints in Super Rugby with the Reds.
Deans and Thorn themselves have a long-standing relationship, having been together at the Crusaders as they won four Super Rugby titles in the 2000s.
Panasonic recently moved their home base to the Saitama Prefecture, which shares a sister state relationship with Queensland.
The pre-season match next year is scheduled to be played in December at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Saitama.
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