Rebels Japanese hooker can make history

18 Have your say

    Melbourne Rebels hooker Shota Horie has an advantage in his race to become the first Japanese player to play in the Super Rugby competition.

    While Horie has joined the Rebels, his Test teammate halfback Fumiaka Tanaka has signed with New Zealand’s Highlanders.

    Melbourne open the 2013 Super season by hosting the Western Force while the Highlanders have a bye giving Horie a week to beat Tanaka to the honour of being the first Japanese player in the 17-year history of the tournament.

    The 26-year-old, who has 12 national caps and played in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, arrived in Melbourne on Thursday and got straight into action.

    In very broken English he said the physicality of the Super competition was an attraction.

    “I want to play every game,” said Horie, naming Rebels teammate James O’Connor as his favourite Wallaby.

    “It will be a challenge.

    “My teammates are good, very kind and I’m happy.”

    While skipper Gareth Delve admitted he could only count to two in Japanese, Horie is fortunate Rebels coach Damien Hill spent three years in Japan and can speak, or at least understand, the language.

    Hill said he watched Horie play a season in this year’s ITM Cup in New Zealand with Otago and was impressed by his work rate.

    Standing 180cm and weighing 102kg he’s a solid unit who has the ability to sniff out a try.

    “His speed and his defence and his line-out ability were three of the main things that we cottoned on to and we’re really hoping for big things for Shota while his here,” Hill said.

    “There’s a lot of competition for hooker, with Ged Robinson and Pat Leafa who have been training exceptionally well.

    “It will be great if the first Japanese player to play in the competition is with Melbourne but it’s a spot that needs to be earned.”

    Horie has a big fan in former Australia coach Eddie Jones, who is now the Japan national coach.

    “Eddie’s a big supporter of Shota and is very excited about his opportunity and looking forward to him making the most of it.”

    Horie, who got married last week, will return to Japan next week to continue his obligations with the Panasonic Wild Knights.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • December 8th 2012 @ 9:31am
      Jorceylin said | December 8th 2012 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Cool, he’ll meet Bismark du Plessis.

      • December 8th 2012 @ 11:20pm
        IronAwe said | December 8th 2012 @ 11:20pm | ! Report

        Hahahaha, I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Exciting though to have some Japanese players in the comp.

        • December 11th 2012 @ 7:29pm
          SkinnyKid said | December 11th 2012 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

          I dont get it

    • December 8th 2012 @ 12:05pm
      Dan said | December 8th 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

      Would love to see a Japanese guy get a go in Super Rugby. They play it in all the universities there, but it just doesn’t get the public support because they have no high profile players making it in the big leagues like they do in soccer and baseball.

      Just need a couple more players to hit the top level – preferably an awesome natural talent at 10, so the Japanese can see get behind a guy who is directing the attack.

    • December 8th 2012 @ 3:17pm
      Mr Taylor said | December 8th 2012 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

      The Highlanders were the first franchise to sign a Japanese player.

      http://www.sanzarrugby.com/superrugby/news/highlanders-set-to-make-japanese-history/

      • Roar Guru

        December 9th 2012 @ 9:09pm
        Jiggles said | December 9th 2012 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

        I wish the NZRU would stop pillaging the talent from Japan and develop their own players!

        • December 9th 2012 @ 9:35pm
          Shahsan said | December 9th 2012 @ 9:35pm | ! Report

          Nice one!

    • December 8th 2012 @ 9:30pm
      allblackfan said | December 8th 2012 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

      why all the fuss? He’s just one man unproven in Super rugby and unable to crack a starting spot in Otago (except for one game).

      • December 8th 2012 @ 10:47pm
        Chivas said | December 8th 2012 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

        And your point is? I think it’s exciting that a player from a minnow nation comes to play in super rugby. It’s a good news story… don’t we like them?

        • December 9th 2012 @ 1:37am
          Shahsan said | December 9th 2012 @ 1:37am | ! Report

          Totally agree. I guess the average New Zealand rugby fan has no time for minnows.

          • December 9th 2012 @ 9:51am
            allblackfan said | December 9th 2012 @ 9:51am | ! Report

            Shahsan, if that was the case then neither Horie nor Tanaka would have played for Otago in the ITM Cup this year. Nor would that Japanese ref who was allowed to control a few ITM Cup, and Heartland games, Nor would have US Eagles prop Eric Fry been allowed to play for Manawatu (or that Chilean pTest player who played for Canterbury last season or Waratah-to-be Peter Betham for Tasman …. etc):-
            The point that I could have made better (and this applies more to the earlier article as well) is that while it’s great to have these minnow players (or even northerners like Delve and Haskell playing in our competition), you need to be realistic in the impact they will have on their new team.
            Will Horie’s presence suddenly result in more Japanese students studying in Melbourne coming to watch the Rebels play? Doubtful (although I would happily be corrected).
            I watched both Horie and Tanaka play for Otago this season and I was very happy to see them wearing the blue-and gold (no, not the Eels!!:-) ) I’d love to see more of those players come down but that would require expansion as neither SA nor NZ have room iin their franchises at present.
            These minnow players can learn almost as much from playing in a feeder competition like the ITM/CC and if they shine (which Tanaka and Horie to a lesser extent did) then they earn a callup to Super rugby. Which is what happened.
            I enjoy, and welcome, their presence. I’m just not going to work myself into a frenzy — that will happen if I meet Sir Richie!!
            Hope I explained myself. Would hate to be misunderstood!!:-)

            • December 9th 2012 @ 12:17pm
              Shahsan said | December 9th 2012 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

              Yes you have. Fair enough!

            • December 11th 2012 @ 7:31pm
              SkinnyKid said | December 11th 2012 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

              (I’m not sure) (you use enough) (brackets) (in your posts)

    • December 9th 2012 @ 2:21am
      Sam said | December 9th 2012 @ 2:21am | ! Report

      Its brilliant news and something they should try to do with argentine players

      • Roar Guru

        December 9th 2012 @ 6:37am
        sixo_clock said | December 9th 2012 @ 6:37am | ! Report

        And Indian, Chinese, Phillipino… This form of advertising for the sport of Rugby, our country, our culture really strikes home, deep. I hope he gets a run and that both the Rebels, the ARU, Sanzar and Tourism Australia all ensure the Japanese News media get good copy to broadcast. This would have Milton Friedman smiling in his grave.

    • December 9th 2012 @ 3:02pm
      nickoldschool said | December 9th 2012 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

      Looks like the Rebels have a soft spot for smaller rugby nations. After developing ‘a Russian’, Adam Byrnes, they are know targeting the Japanese market :).

      To get all excited about a foreigner playing in SR makes us realise how SR is such a closed competition. It certainly has its advantages but i wouldnt mind a few more imports per team. Georgians or Romanians have been playing pro rugby in Europe for quite a while now and it not only helped their nations get more competitive at international level but it also brought a different approach to their clubs.

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