All Blacks superstar duo headed to Japanese club

All Blacks superstars Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett will head to Japan after the World Cup in France to play with Toyota Verblitz.The pair are the two most-capped backs in All Blacks' history, with 34-year-old Smith playing 114 Tests and 31-year-old Barrett 112.Halfback Smith, has signed a long-term deal with Toyota, meaning 2023 is likely to be his last season in New Zealand.However, five eighth/fullback Barrett could return home to play after 2024."I'm looking forward to taking up this opportunity with Toyota alongside a good friend and long-term teammate in Aaron," Barrett said in a statement."My agent Warren Alcock is in communication and negotiation with New Zealand Rugby, the Blues and Toyota about my future beyond the Japan One 2024 season."Smith and Barrett will play for the Highlanders and Auckland Blues, respectively, in Super Rugby Pacific this season and will be available for the All Blacks through to the end of the World Cup.Smith is the Highlanders' most capped player, with 176 matches for the Dunedin-based side since his 2011 debut."You look at Aaron and you think, this guy could go on forever," said Highlanders CEO Roger Clark."I know we and every Highlanders fan would want him to. Unfortunately, that is not a reality in professional rugby."I would encourage everyone to come out this season and watch the master at work one last time."Meanwhile, the All Blacks have had to make way for the FIFA Women's World Cup, with this year's home Test against world champions South Africa to be played at rugby league venue Mt Smart Stadium instead of their Eden Park fortress.The FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in July and August has taken priority in booking New Zealand stadiums during the months in which the Rugby Championship will be played.FIFA's strict rules around stadium usage before soccer World Cup matches means the All Blacks' July 15 clash with the Springboks moves across Auckland to Mt Smart Stadium, home ground of the NRL's Warriors.The All Blacks' second Bledisloe Cup Test against the Wallabies will be played at Dunedin's indoor Forsyth-Barr Stadium on August 5.Dunedin will only host group matches at the FIFA Women's World Cup and that stage will be over before the rugby Test is played.The All Blacks and Springboks also will meet at Twickenham in England on August 25 in a truncated Rugby Championship.Click Here: All Blacks rugby store

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