Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru will join the Queensland Reds for the 2016 Super Rugby season on a one-year deal, the Reds said on their official website on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old fullback became a household name in Japan when he helped the Brave Blossoms pull off a sensational 34-32 win over South Africa in the teams’ opening match of the just-concluded Rugby World Cup in England, a result described as the biggest upset in the sport’s history.
Goromaru finished the tournament with 58 points and will be remembered for his accurate kicking, his tackling — in particular a try-saver on Tommy Seymour in Japan’s 45-10 loss to Scotland — and line breaks that culminated in a fine try against the Springboks.
He was named in the tournament’s dream team after Japan became the first squad to win three games while failing to reach the quarterfinals.
His signing by the Reds is a blow to the new Tokyo-based Sunwolves Super Rugby franchise that is in the process of building a squad for the 2016 season. The addition of a Japanese player of Goromaru’s skill, stature and popularity would have been a coup for the Sunwolves.
The 2016 season will be Goromaru’s first in Super Rugby. He’s spent his entire professional rugby career in Japan’s Top League. He has 57 test caps and with 711 points is Japan’s all-time leading points scorer.
The Reds’ executive general manager, Daniel Herbert, said Goromaru would be a welcome addition to the Australian team.
“Ayumu has been regarded by many observers as one of the standout fullbacks of the Rugby World Cup but (just) as importantly, he has been performing at a consistently high level for Yamaha Jubilo in the Japan League for many years,” Herbert said in a statement.
“Both of our assistant coaches, Nick Stiles and Matt O’Connor, have coached against Ayumu in Japan and have said he is a player that worries any opposition. His recent goal-kicking percentage sits at or above 80 percent — an area in which the Reds are looking to improve in 2016. He is a quality player who will add depth to our outside backs for 2016. The QRU thanks the Yamaha Jubilo club for their support in Ayumu’s joining the Reds for the 2016 Super Rugby season.”
Goromaru said he was looking forward to bringing his talents to Brisbane and testing himself in Super Rugby.
“I have followed the Queensland Reds for many years and am looking forward to joining the squad and meeting my new teammates. Following my experiences at the Rugby World Cup, I’m looking forward to the chance of proving myself at Super Rugby level,” he said in a statement.
Goromaru will join the Reds at the conclusion of the Japanese Top League competition in early February 2016.
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