Ardie Savea on decision to head offshore after World Cup

Publish Date
Sunday, 5 February 2023, 9:04AM

Ardie Savea was looking for an opportunity, and when the Kobe Steelers showed interest, he was happy to sign the dotted line of a lucrative deal and set up his family.

Savea will join the growing list of New Zealand rugby players taking their talents to competition offshore when he joins the Steelers in Japan following the World Cup later this year.

The 70-test All Blacks flanker was honest about his decision.

“Plain and simple - [it’s[ to set up my family. The money’s good, I’m not going to lie,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity to set up my family and also to try something new. It’s a bit of a challenge and hopefully it puts me on my toes.

“Not that I’m not on my toes here but there’s just something about going into a new environment and feeling young and being a rookie again.

“Hopefully that sparks something in me to keep going for a few more years.”

Leaving offshore is becoming common not only for players later in their career, with players in their prime also now beginning to look for opportunities in the offshore market on a short-term basis and return home after a season away.

Savea will be in the latter category when he leaves Kiwi shores at the end of the year. The Hurricanes captain will play in the Steelers’ 2023-24 campaign in the Japanese Top League, which will see him miss the 2024 Super Rugby campaign. However, he is expected to return home in June 2024 and be available for the All Blacks selection, before returning to the Hurricanes in 2025.

He will link up with former Hurricanes and All Blacks teammate Ngani Laumape in Japan, however, Savea admitted he didn’t have a planned destination in mind when he started looking for a job in Japan.

“I just put the feelers out and whatever club came first that was interested, I was just keen to get a signed deal. It’s post-World Cup so there are so many players looking to go to Japan and international quotas would get filled up so I just wanted to get in early.”

While it’s a move he is making to set up his family, Savea said he would be making the trip solo, with his wife, children and dogs remaining in New Zealand.

“We’ll just visit over Christmas and other parts of the year. I’ll go over by myself; I know Ngani’s there so I’ve told him if he wants a babysitter, him and his wife can go have date nights and I can look after the kids.”

Savea will be one of several big names leaving New Zealand this year. Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders), Shannon Frizell (Highlanders) and Pita Gus Sowakula (Chiefs) have all had moves offshore confirmed, while there have been reports that Chiefs duo Brad Weber and Brodie Retallick will also head abroad.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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