You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Leitch confirms he is leaving the Chiefs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/05/2017

Michael Leitch is set to link with Japan's Tokyo-based Super Rugby team. © Sean Middleton/Getty Images Michael Leitch is set to link with Japan's Tokyo-based Super Rugby team. Japan captain Michael Leitch is leaving the Chiefs at the end of the season despite being offered a new contract with the franchise.

Leitch has played four seasons with the team and was part of the 2013 side that won the Super Rugby title.

The 28-year-old will likely link up with the Sunwolves in next year's competition as the Brave Blossoms build towards the World Cup.

"I love playing for the Chiefs but they're looking to build for the future with Colin Cooper coming in and they wanted to sign their key players pretty soon so I had to make the decision," he said.

The Chiefs recently signed Canadian forward Tyler Ardron who will replace the number 8.

Leitch revealed he wouldn't mind missing the Super Rugby season to freshen up due to his ongoing commitments with his club side the Toshiba Brave Lupus over summer.

However he admits there are advantages in playing for the Sunwolves next year, who are managed by his Japanese coach Jamie Joseph.

"I would like to take a break but realistically I'm not sure that will happen.

"The good thing about the Sunwolves is they have a squad of 50 players so he can rotate his team more than any other franchise in the world.

"We're just going to see how the schedule looks and how the top league season goes, and what type of contract we can negotiate.

"In order to play for Japan at the World Cup you need to be playing for the Sunwolves in 2019 but I guess if Jamie wants me in the mix next season I will be playing for them."

Leitch, who was born in Christchurch, has played 47 games for the Brave Blossoms since he made his international debut in 2008.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon