April 15, 2024

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Sam Kanter to join Suntory in 2024 but will return for All Blacks test season

2 min read

New Zealand Rugby have confirmed that Sam Cane will join Japanese club Suntory in 2024, but he will return home to play for the All Blacks in June.

The 31-year-old flanker became the first player to be sent off in a Rugby World Cup final when he was red carded in New Zealand’s 12-11 loss to South Africa last weekend.

Kane has signed a sabbatical contract with New Zealand Rugby which will allow him to travel to Japan for the tournament next year.

Kane said in a statement, “When the opportunity arose to play for Suntory in 2024, I felt it was the perfect time to try something new after the Rugby World Cup.”

Sam Kanter to join Suntory in 2024 but will return for All Blacks test season

The Japanese season starts in December and runs until May, meaning Kane will miss out on the opportunity to play for the Waikato Chiefs in the 2024 Super Rugby campaign, which starts in February.

“It wasn’t an easy decision not to play for the Chiefs for a season, but I know the team is in good shape,” Kane said.

“I’m delighted to be back in time to be at my best for the All Blacks.

New Zealand will host England in next year’s Test series before beginning the defense of their Rugby Championship title under new head coach Scott Robertson.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said, “Few players have given as much as he has, and the fact that he will return and play in Test matches this season shows his commitment to the All Blacks.”

Suntory finished third in last season’s Japan Rugby League Division One, but lost to eventual champions Kubota Spears in the semi-finals of the Final Four.

Kane’s All Blacks teammates Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie have both played for the Tokyo-based club in recent years.

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