All Blacks: Kieran Read signs with Japanese club Toyota Verblitz

All Blacks captain Kieran Read is taking his talents to Japan.

Having already confirmed he'd be leaving New Zealand Rugby after October's World Cup, Read has announced that he's penned a deal with Japanese club Toyota Verblitz.

"Every young rugby player in New Zealand dreams of the opportunities I have had to represent the All Blacks and the Crusaders," Read said.

"I know I'll look back at the end of the year with a great deal of pride to have worn those jerseys for as long as I have.

"My family and I are looking forward to an overseas experience and Japan presents an awesome opportunity to immerse ourselves in Japanese culture as part of the Toyota club. I feel the time is right to make this announcement on my playing future, so that I can focus my efforts on the season ahead."

His decision to forego any European offer and instead link up with former Springboks coach Jake White's side was based on Japan's proximity to New Zealand and the less physical demands of its competition, in terms of both schedule and style of play.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen paid tribute to the 118-test international, highlighting the impact he's made both on and off the field.

"His performances on the park speak for themselves," said Hansen. "However, that is only part of the Kieran Read story. His contribution off the park has been just as impressive. 

"He's developed into a fantastic leader, who has the utmost respect of all his peers. What he has achieved has been remarkable, and its fair to say that he is one of the greats of our game who has enhanced the legacy of not only the All Blacks jersey but also the Crusaders jersey."

Succeeding Richie McCaw as captain in 2016, Read will lead the All Blacks in Japan as they look to achieve an historic third-consecutive World Cup triumph. 

A product of the small South Auckland town of Drury, Read was a critical component of New Zealand's two prior wins at the tournament in 2011 and 2015. 

He's led the All Blacks to 43 test wins, which includes a world record streak of 19-straight between 2012 and 2016.

In 2013, he was named World Rugby's Player of the Year.

Read becomes the latest member of the post-World Cup All Blacks exodus, alongside the likes of France-bound Ben Smith and Liam Squire, who's also heading to Japan. 



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