Rugby World Cup 2019: Flanker Liam Squire set to join All Blacks exodus

Loose forward Liam Squire seems poised to join the All Blacks exodus after this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Stuff is reporting that the powerful blindside flanker has signed a contract with Japanese club - not yet public - that will see him forsake his national team aspirations for financial security.

Injury has probably prevented Squire from fulfilling his potential, since debuting for the All Blacks against Wales in 2016, making 23 international appearances since. He played in only eight tests last year, but was still the starting number six against Ireland in November, where he hurt his knee.

Whoever inherits the All Blacks coaching reins when Steve Hansen steps down will have many holes to fill in the national squad, if all the reports and rumours of players departing come to fruition.

Among the names linked to overseas contracts are captain Kieran Read, star first-five Beauden Barrett, and locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick. Veteran fullback Ben Smith has already confirmed a move to French club Pau.

But last week, Squire admitted he faced a torrid battle even nailing down a starting role with the Highlanders this season, with international loose forwards Luke Whitelock, Eliot Dixon, Shannon Frizell and Jackson Hemopo on the roster.

The Highlanders will open their Super Rugby campaign on Friday against the Chiefs in Hamilton.


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