Ben Smith and Aaron Cruden to join Japan’s Kobe Steelers

New Zealand World Cup winners Ben Smith and Aaron Cruden will join Kobe Steelers, the Japanese rugby union team confirmed on Friday, following in the footsteps of other high-profile compatriots like Dan Carter.

Cruden and Smith will begin playing for the team when Japan’s Top League rugby union competition resumes next season in January 2021 after this season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Steelers won the Top League title in 2019.

  • 2020 Six Nations to conclude in October
  • Milestones for Whitelock and Cruden

Smith, the sixth-highest try scorer in New Zealand history, will join from France’s Pau. He has 84 caps and was part of the All Blacks team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

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Cruden, who was a replacement for Carter when the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup in 2011, is set to make his 100th Super Rugby appearance for the Waikato Chiefs on Saturday.

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