Rugby: All Blacks, Blues forward Akira Ioane announces departure for Japan

  • 10/06/2024
Akira Ioane.
Akira Ioane. Photo credit: Getty Images

All Blacks and Blues forward Akira Ioane has announced he's heading to Japan.

On Sunday, the 21-test All Black confirmed he's signed a deal with Japan's Rugby League One, meaning this weekend's Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final against the Brumbies may be his final game for the franchise.

Ioane, 28, made his debut for the Blues back in 2015, before earning his first All Blacks call-up in 2020. He's also represented Māori All Blacks and won a silver medal with the All Blacks Sevens at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Ioane says his decision was motivated by his desire to set-up his family's future as he nears the tail-end of his playing career.

"A tough decision, wasn't easy," Ioane said in a video posted to the Blues' social media channels.  

"I just thought it was time. I've been here 10 years, since I was a young kid coming out of school. It's something I never truly thought was possible, I'm truly grateful for the opportunity I've had.

"It's going to suck leaving, but on to what I think is bigger and better things for me and where I want to be, when I want to finish rugby.

"It's not just me and my partner I have to worry about, it's about making sure I've got the means to look after my family.

"That was part of the decision to head to Japan and make the most of what I think is the back end of my career."