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Liam Squire is the latest All Blacks player to confirm he is leaving New Zealand after this year’s Rugby World Cup, with the loose forward saying on Monday he has agreed to join Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
The 27-year-old, who has signed a two-year contract, had been expected to sign with a Japanese club after battling a series of niggling injuries that curtailed his appearances for the All Blacks and Highlanders in Super Rugby.
When fit, Squire has been the All Blacks first-choice blindside flanker since 2017, getting the nod ahead of two-time World Cup winner Jerome Kaino.
“It seems like the right time to go,” Squire said in a Highlanders’ statement on Monday.
“I have really loved my time in New Zealand … and in particular down here with the Highlanders, it’s a club that gave me a chance and I appreciate the support I have had.”
Squire’s Highlanders teammate Ben Smith (Pau) as well as Hurricanes winger Nehe Milner-Skudder (Toulon) and Crusaders prop Owen Franks (Northampton) have already confirmed they will leave New Zealand after the September 20 to November 2 World Cup in Japan.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read has also said he would be leaving New Zealand but has not confirmed his destination, while Jordan Taufua (Leicester), Matt Proctor (Northampton) and Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Wasps) are also heading offshore.
Coach Steve Hansen has also said he is stepping down after the World Cup.