Blues loose forward Akira Ioane to head Japan at end of season

Akira Ioane has played 21 Tests for New Zealand
Akira Ioane has played 21 Tests for New Zealand

All Blacks loose forward Akira Ioane has announced that he will be leaving Blues at the end of the ongoing season.

Ioane started playing for New Zealand Sevens in 2014 and was a member of the All Blacks Sevens squad at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Following his stunning performance in 2014 Wellington Sevens, the 28-year-old earned a Blues contract for 2015 and has featured in over 100 Super Rugby games for them. His Test debut for New Zealand came in 2020 and has featured in 21 Tests.

He is now reported to move to his birth country Japan and under rugby's international rules he could represent the Brave Blossoms and Manu Samoa.

"It means a lot, obviously I'm a born and bred Auckland boy and I never really thought about going anywhere else. This is home, it will always be home," Ioane said in the video.

"But, at the end of the day I've had to make a hard decision and I've decided to leave the Blues at the end of this year.

"A tough decision, wasn't easy. 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."