Leitch to leave Chiefs to return to Japan

Tue, 16 May 2017 06:28
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NEWS: Japan rugby captain Michael Leitch said he will leave New Zealand's Chiefs after this season with an eye toward joining Japanese side Sunwolves, according to an interview published Tuesday.

The planned move should help him and Japan build themselves up for the 2019 home World Cup, Leitch told nzcity.co.nz.

Leitch was the skipper of the Japanese national team Brave Blossoms during their showing in the 2015 World Cup, when they pulled off a stunning upset victory against South Africa.

He said the decision to quit the Chiefs came after Colin Cooper was named to coach the New Zealand team from next year and Canadian forward Tyler Ardron brought in as his replacement.

"I love playing for the Chiefs, but they're looking to build for the future with Colin Cooper coming in and they wanted to sign their key players pretty soon so I had to make the decision," he said.

By returning to Japan, his adopted homeland, New Zealand-born Leitch said he will be closer to Jamie Joseph, who coaches the Brave Blossoms. 

After the ongoing Super Rugby season ends, Leitch will play for the Toshiba Brave Lupus Club in Japan's Top League, which will begin its season in August.

"We're just going to see how the schedule looks and how the Top League season goes, and what type of contract we can negotiate," Leitch said.

"In order to play for Japan at the World Cup you need to be playing for the Sunwolves in 2019, but I guess if Jamie wants me in the mix next season I will be playing for them," he said.

Agence France-Presse

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 29 July 2017
Crusaders v Chiefs 07h35 Christchurch
Golden Lions v Griquas 10h00 Johannesburg
Lions v Hurricanes 12h30 Ellis Park
Sharks v Pumas 15h00 Durban
Sun, 30 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Western Province 12h30 Bloemfontein
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 July 2017
Pumas v Golden Lions 43 | 36
Sat, 22 July 2017
Griquas v Blue Bulls 45 | 51
Stormers v Chiefs 11 | 17
Lions v Sharks 23 | 21
Crusaders v Highlanders 17 | 0
Fri, 21 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 47 | 12
Brumbies v Hurricanes 16 | 35
Sat, 15 July 2017
Sharks v Lions 10 | 27
Bulls v Stormers 33 | 41
Force v Waratahs 40 | 11
Hurricanes v Crusaders 31 | 22
Chiefs v Brumbies 28 | 10
Sunwolves v Blues 43 | 21
Fri, 14 July 2017
Kings v Cheetahs 20 | 21
Rebels v Jaguares 29 | 32
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28