New Zealand captain Sam Cane has taken the sabbatical option in his contract to play for Japanese Rugby League One club Suntory Sungoliath for the 2024 season.
Despite his move to Japan, Cane will be available for selection in the international matches for the All Blacks but will miss the 2024 Super Rugby season for Chiefs.
The news follows after Cane became the first ever player to be red carded in a World Cup final that saw New Zealand lose by a slender 11-12 margin to South Africa, who went on to claim the title for the fourth time.
"It wasn't an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024," said Cane in a statement released.
"And I'm really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks."
New Zealand chief executive Mark Robinson confirmed that despite Cane's move to Japan he will be available for the All Blacks.
“There are very few players who have given as much as he has and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”