Rugby

Sam Whitelock, Damien de Allende headline exodus from Panasonic

Kyodo

The Panasonic Wild Knights officially bid farewell Monday to veteran New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock and South African center Damien de Allende as part of an exodus of overseas players from the Japan Rugby Top League club.

Whitelock, a World Cup winner in 2011 and 2015, and de Allende, a member of the Springboks side that captured the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan last year, are among eight mostly foreign players leaving Panasonic, according to its announcement.

Former New Zealand rugby league international Jordan Rapana and Tongan-born Japan sevens international Tevita Tupou are also departing the club following the cancellation of the Top League season due to the coronavirus crisis.

The 31-year-old Whitelock — whose 117 All Black caps include several as stand-in captain — has rejoined New Zealand Super Rugby side the Crusaders. De Allende, 28, has moved to Irish side Munster.

The Robbie Deans-coached Panasonic last month announced the signing of England lock George Kruis and Wales center Hadleigh Parkes as replacements for the pair.

Kruis and Parkes are set to arrive in Japan in November from England's Saracens and Welsh club Scarlets, respectively, ahead of the 2021 Top League season, which is scheduled to start next January and run through to May.

Coronavirus banner