England’s Kruis to play in Japan next season

Rugby

England and Saracens lock George Kruis will play in Japan for the Panasonic Wild Knights next season, the Top League club said on Monday.

Welsh centre Hadleigh Parkes will also join Kruis at the club with the pair expected to arrive in Japan in November ahead of the 2021 Top League season, which begins in January. The 2020 campaign was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Panasonic, who won three consecutive Top League titles from 2014-2016, are coached by former Australia coach Robbie Deans.

“I am extremely excited and honoured to take on this new challenge and chapter in my career,” Kruis said in a statement.

“(I am) joining Robbie Deans and the team at Panasonic Wild Knights at what is a really exciting time for rugby in Japan, following the tremendous World Cup they hosted last year.”

Kruis, a key part of the England side that reached the World Cup final last year, will be leaving Saracens after over a decade at the club.

“I cannot thank all the team and staff at Saracens enough, not only for the time they have put into building me as a player on the field, but as an individual off it,” he told the club’s website.

“I have made lifelong friendships and memories that will carry on way past my playing career.

“Although this has clearly been a tough decision, I am extremely excited and honoured to take on this new challenge and chapter in my career.”

Parkes, who is leaving Pro14 team Scarlets, where he has played since 2014, said he was looking forward to bringing his family to Japan.

“I have known Robbie Deans for a while now, and am sure that the squad and the program he will run will give us the best possible chance of winning silverware,” he said.

“I loved my time in Japan over the Rugby World Cup, and am really looking forward to immersing myself, my wife and young daughter into Japanese life once I arrive later in the year.”

Japanese teams have attracted a host of top players in recent years, including three-time World Player of the Year Dan Carter and Australian pair Will Genia and Quade Cooper.

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