Kobelco Steelers have confirmed the signing of former All Blacks duo Aaron Cruden and Ben Smith ahead of the next season.
The 2020 season of Top League was cancelled by the pandemic coronavirus as both Smith and Cruden will be part of their 2021 campaign which will also see All Blacks' Brodie Retallick returning.
Cruden, who is currently on a second stint with Chiefs is set to make his 100th appearance for the club this weekend and has experience of playing for Hurricanes and Montpellier. He has also recorded 50 Tests with the All Blacks between 2010 and 2017.
Meanwhile, Ben Smith played for Highlanders between 2009 and 2019 following which he headed to French club Pau ahead of the 2019/20 season. He played 84 Tests for New Zealand before announcing international retirement with the World Cup last year in Japan.
“I’m really looking forward to joining Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers,” Smith told the club’s website.
“The success of the team over the last few years has a world-class rugby program that allows Kobelco Steelers to bring out their performance.
“I am very competitive and proud that I can contribute to the team. I will do my best to further shine the brilliant history of Kobelco Steelers. I and my family look forward to the opportunity to experience different cultures and lifestyles.”