So'oialo to join Honda Heat
June 2, 2011
Rodney So'oialo has signed a two-year contract with Japanese outfit Honda Heat © Getty Images
Former All Blacks back-row Rodney So'oialo has revealed that he will quit his native New Zealand at the end of the current Super Rugby season to move to Japan.
The Hurricanes ace, who was capped 62 times by his country between 2002 and 2009, has put pen to paper on a two-year contract with the Honda Heat. So'oialo is looking forward to the challenge of adapting to life in a different country but admitted that it will be a wrench to leave his homeland.
"I want to thank the NZRU, Hurricanes and Wellington for their continuous support for me over such a long time," he said. "I really appreciate everything done for me. It has been a privilege and an honour for me to play for these teams and for my country."
New Zealand head coach Graham Henry was quick to pay tribute to a player who captained the Kiwis on seven occasions during a glittering international career.
"[He was] a special All Black and an exceptional man in the team," the former Wales boss said. "His total commitment and passion for the All Blacks jersey has been inspirational and a marvellous example to others.
"He has also been a key member of the leadership group, commanded enormous respect from his fellow players and was the obvious choice as stand-in captain when Richie McCaw was injured.
"Everyone in the All Blacks has the utmost respect for Rodders and we wish him and Marilyn and the family all the very best for their adventure to Japan and in their future endeavours."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape