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Gareth Anscombe wants to carry on playing for Wales after Japan switch

21 Jul 2023 3 minute read
Wales’ Gareth Anscombe lines up a kick. Photo Joe Giddens PA images

Gareth Anscombe is hoping to make a big impact in Japan, but also wants to carry on playing for Wales after the World Cup.

Writing in the magazine he co-founded with Wales teammate Alex Cuthbert, Sportin Wales, the World Cup-bound outside half revealed he has signed a two-year deal with Suntory Sungoliath and will relocate to Japan after the tournament.

He has the required 25 caps to continue to be picked by Warren Gatland despite playing outside the four Welsh regions and doesn’t see the World Cup as being his international rugby swansong after leaving the Ospreys.

“It’s a new country, a fascinating new culture, and a fresh rugby stimulus for me, so it’s all very appealing.  Suntory has always been among the leading clubs in Japan,” he said.

“It had always been on my to-do list to play in a very different rugby setting and now I’ve got this opportunity, I feel incredibly grateful.

“I am looking forward to getting out there in November for the start of their next season, settling in and trying to learn the language, which is important in the position I play where good communication with everyone is vital.”

Six Nations

New Zealand born Anscombe, who qualifies for Wales via his mother from Cardiff, is hoping to add to his 39 caps to date in next month’s summer series and the World Cup. His club commitments for Tokyo-based Suntory will mean he is likely to be unavailable for the 2024 Six Nations, but he has no plans to retire from international rugby.

“I’m probably not going to be available for the Six Nations, but I’d be very keen to have a conversation with Warren Gatland about what role I could play,” said the 32-year-old.

“There is a Wales tour to Australia next summer and I would love to be in contention for that. Playing for Wales means a massive amount to me and I want to be able to have the honour of that opportunity for as long as possible, however that works out.”

Anscombe first came to Wales in 2014 and has played for both Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys. He played at the 2015 World Cup, missed the 2019 tournament through injury and was a Grand Slam winner in 2019.

Eddie Jones

He also revealed that it was while playing for the Barbarians at Twickenham last year that the first seeds of playing in Japan were sown after conversations with the Suntory Sungoliath’s coaching consultant, Eddie Jones. The then England head coach, now in charge of Wales’ Pool C World Cup opponents Australia, helped to convince him to take the plunge.

“I had a conversation with Eddie, who obviously knows a great deal about rugby in Japan, and I’ve also spoken to a few New Zealanders who have either already played there or are considering it,” said Anscombe.

“The club rugby in Japan is really taking off and it’s a country where the game generally is booming. I loved watching the Japan team at the last World Cup and I thought they were by far the most exciting team in the tournament.”

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