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Hatakeyama heads to England for new challenge with Newcastle

Kyodo

Japan and Suntory Sungoliath prop Kensuke Hatakeyama is aiming to get into games in England’s Premiership, he said Friday at Narita airport.

The 30-year-old, who has played 72 times for the Brave Blossoms, signed a short-term deal with Newcastle, which is currently at the bottom of the 12-team league. The season started in October and ends in May.

“I want to get in as many games as I can,” said Hatakeyama.

The prop appears to have selected Newcastle from among several offers after consulting with former Japan forwards coach Steve Borthwick.

“I want to do my best to increase the number of players going to Europe,” he said.

Former Suntory and NTT Communications Shining Arcs No. 8 Todd Clever and ex-NEC Green Rockets captain Nili Latu were picked up by the Newcastle in the offseason, while wing Alesana Tuilagi joined in 2014 after two years with NTT Communications.

Brave Blossoms No. 8 Amanaki Lelei Mafi signed with Bath in December.