Rugby-New deal allows All Black Tuipulotu to make overseas switch

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(Reuters) - Auckland Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu will spend next season playing in Japan after signing a contract with New Zealand Rugby through to 2025.

Tuipulotu led the Blues to the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title in June and has been linked with Top League side Toyota Verblitz after the new deal permitted the lock to take a one-year sabbatical.

"In some ways winning the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title has made my decision easier, because we have got that monkey off our backs at the Blues," Tuipulotu said.

"I am excited for the new experience overseas and will be doing my best. Equally, I will be looking forward to returning to the Blues and my home in Auckland.

"I have big goals that I want to achieve both for my country and the Blues in the future.

"I am honoured that New Zealand Rugby and the Blues have shown so much faith in me, and this provides security for my family over the next few years to the likely end of my career."

His new deal will see him play for the Blues until 2025 but allows the 28-year-old lock to move to Japan ahead of a return to New Zealand midway through 2022.

Tuipulotu will move following the All Blacks' involvement in the upcoming Rugby Championship and will miss next year's Super Rugby campaign.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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