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Super Rugby

Christian Lealiifano is on the move.

Former Ulster Rugby Fly-Half is on the move.

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Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Plus500 Brumbies flyhalf Christian Lealiifano has confirmed that he will depart the ACT Brumbies at the conclusion of the 2019 Super Rugby season to take up a contract offer in Japan.

The Brumbies captain, who has played 148 times for the club will end his twelve-year association with the club at the culmination of the Brumbies campaign.

“This was a difficult decision for me and would like to thank the Brumbies for their support throughout my time at the club,” Lealiifano said of his choice to move to Japan.

“The Brumbies mean a lot to me and my family, and they have given me so much.

“I love Canberra and the community, as it’s my home and will always hold a special place in my heart.

“The players, staff, members and supporters have been behind me every step of the way since my debut and I am grateful and thankful for their unconditional support.

“I leave with many amazing memories and friendships which I will cherish.

“The support that the Canberra public gave me and my family through a difficult time in my life will never be forgotten.

“I believe this club has a bright future under Dan and his coaching staff and look forward to following that progress.

“We still have much to play for this season as well, starting with our Quarter Final against the Sharks on Saturday evening, and I am fully focused on doing my best to help us reach the next stage.”

Lealiifano made his debut for the Brumbies in 2008 against the Crusaders in Christchurch and latterly made his Test bow in unique circumstances, against the British & Irish Lions on their 2013 tour.

He subsequently won a much-publicised battle with Leukaemia to reignite his rugby career, earning a recall to the Wallabies training camp ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup in the land of the Rising Sun.

“We are sad to see Christian move on but we are very grateful to have had such a quality person at our club for so long,” Head Coach Dan McKellar commented.

“Christian has been a huge part of the Brumbies for 12 years now. His contribution both on field and off field have been enormous.

“Christian the player, has been so important for us, his fearlessness, his direction, his leadership, particularly this year. He’s grown so much as a leader in my time here, but Christian the person is what makes him who he is.

“You will not meet a more selfless person then Christian Lealiifano. To go through what he went through, and to comeback and still find time to lead and care for those around him, to be there for his teammates, he’s an incredible person.

“He should be very proud of the legacy he leaves at the Brumbies.

“We wish Christian, his family all the best for his future in Japan and beyond.”

A firm favourite with the Brumbies faithful, Lealiifano has captained the side 46 times with only George Gregan (47 caps as Captain) and Ben Mowen (51) ahead of him on the list of players to lead the team onto the field.

“Christian has been a tremendous ambassador for the club, both on and off the field, and we are sorry to see him leave,” Plus500 Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson commented.

“On behalf of the Brumbies family we wish Christian, and his family, all the best for their next adventure.”

Rugby Transfer Rumours

Springbok Lock Heading Home After Six Years in France

Following a six-year stint in France one Springbok is heading back to his old stomping ground

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(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Springbok lock Juandre Kruger is returning to South Africa and the Bulls following a six-year stint in France.

The 17-cap Springbok, who made his last international appearance in 2013 before his move, is a welcome addition to the Bulls squad following the departures of Lodewyk de Jager and RG Snyman to Sale Sharks and Honda Heat respectively.

Kruger took to social media to confirm his return and is excited to be back.

“Hi Bulls family. Juandre Kruger here. It has been a while since I addressed you guys. For those who haven’t heard I am super excited to announce that I am heading back to my old stomping ground, Loftus. I have just done a deal with the Bulls and I will be joining the boys in December later this year. I am looking forward to making you proud. I’ll check you in a few months,” he said.

The 33-year-old will bring plenty of experience having previously played for the Bulls between 2008 and 2013 before heading to Racing 92 where he stayed for three-years, winning the Top 14 in his final year. He then moved on to Toulon whom he is leaving to re-join the Bulls.

The Bulls finished the Super Rugby season with eight wins out of their 16 matches in the regular season before going on to be defeated by the Hurricanes in the quarter-finals.

Kruger’s signing is the second of an impressive week for the Bulls after they announced the arrival of Scottish international Josh Strauss earlier this week. He will link-up with the squad following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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Rugby Transfer Rumours

Wallabies Powerhouse Set for European Switch

One of Australia’s hookers seems set for a move to Europe next season according to reports

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(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu could be on his way to Stade Francais next season according to French outlet Midi Olympique.

The report claims that the Waratahs player, who is in the Wallabies Rugby Championship squad for their upcoming campaign, has burnt his bargaining bridges with Rugby Australia following a drink-driving incident earlier this year.

That issue resulted in Latu pleading guilty to the charges and being handed suspensions both on and off the pitch. He received a four-match suspension and a $5,000 fine from Rugby Australia.

However, on the pitch Latu has been in good form and it is thought to be wanted by Heyneke Meyer at Stade Francais, who already have four Aussies in his squad in Paul Alo-Emile, Sefa Naivalu, Hughe Pyle and Tala Gray.

The Top 14 side have got three hookers on their books in Laurent Panis, Remi Bonfils and Lucas Da Silva, but the arrival of Latu would most likely become the first-choice hooker if he arrived.

Ironically if the move does come to be the 26-year-old would be joining a club that his current Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika used to manage.

Whatever happens, Latu will more than likely be heading to the World Cup in Japan with his country meaning any move away from the Waratahs would occur in November once the tournament concludes.

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Premiership

Scottish Star Signs for the Bulls

One of Scotland’s key back-rowers has left his contract a year early to join the Bulls

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland back-rower Josh Strauss will leave his contract with Sale Sharks a year early on order to join the Bulls

The 32-year-old has been at the English club for two-years since joining from Glasgow Warriors, with Sale agreeing to let him leave early having signed Jean-Luc, Daniel du Preez and Mark Wilson this summer.

He had been in talks with the Warriors about a return, as well as receiving a lot of attention from French Top 14 sides, but chose the Bulls.

By signing for the Bulls, Strauss will return to his country of birth, but is far more associated with Scotland having qualified for their national side in 2015.

He made his debut for the Scots in the 2015 World Cup and has gone on to gain 22-caps for them since.

Strauss is included in Scotland’s 44-man World Cup training squad by head coach Gregor Townsend and played in all five of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures earlier this year.

However, there is no guarantee that he will make the tournament in Japan as he faces huge competition for a place on the plane with Ryan Wilson, Matt Fagerson, Magnus Bradbury, Sam Skinner and Blade Thomson are all vying for places.

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