Kriel to make Japan switch

Updated: 

Lions flanker Jaco Kriel will join Japanese club Kubota Spears at the end of the Super Rugby season, but will return for the 2017 campaign.

The 26-year-old, who was named in the South Africa squad for the upcoming series against Ireland, will not feature in the Currie Cup after agreeing a two-year deal with the Funabashi-based Top League outfit.

Kriel said: "I am looking forward to the opportunity of living and playing abroad and bringing back new ideas to my Lions team-mates, which has successfully been done by Elton [Jantjies], Lionel [Mapoe] and Warwick [Tecklenburg] in the past.

"I feel I can contribute immensely and I really look forward to the challenge. Kubota has established an exciting team of players and coaches for this season and I am excited to be part of this new chapter."

Lions chief executive Rudolf Straeuli stated: "We see this as an opportunity which is mutually beneficial to both the Golden Lions Rugby Union and our players as we therefore manage to secure their services for a longer period of time."