Top League
Schalk Burger, George Whitelock heading to Japan
ESPN Staff
June 4, 2014
Schalk Burger is free to play for the Stormers in the 2015 Super Rugby season © Getty Images

Schalk Burger and George Whitelock are the latest high-profile players heading for Japan, joining Top League clubs Suntory Sungoliath and Panasonic Wild Knights respectively.

Burger is reported in South Africa to have signed a two-year contract to play with the three-time Top League champions, the deal allowing him to return to South Africa in the Japanese off-season to play Super Rugby for the Stormers.

"I am looking forward to playing for Suntory Goliath," Burger said in a Japanese-language statement on the club's website. "It is a great honour for me to play with Fourie du Preez and many other standouts at the wonderful team, and to play in Japan where enthusiasm for rugby is rising ahead of the 2019 World Cup which it will host."

Whitelock, meanwhile, is joining recently appointed former Crusaders and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans at the Wild Knights, who also have Highlanders scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka and ex-Wallabies five-eighth Berrick Barnes on their roster.

Whitelock, who won one Test cap as a replacement against Italy in 2009, has played for the Crusaders since Deans selected him in 2008, and he started all 18 matches of their Super Rugby matches last season before captaining Canterbury to their sixth consecutive ITM Cup title. But he has not started a Super Rugby match since April 19, with Richie McCaw, Matt Tood, Kieran Read, Jordan Taufua and younger brother Luke all ahead of him in the Crusaders' pecking order.

George Whitelock has served the Crusaders since 2008 © Getty Images

He is the fourth Crusaders player to announce they are leaving after the Super Rugby campaign, after hooker Corey Flynn (Toulouse), Tyler Bleyendaal (Munster) and Zac Guildford (Clermont).

Andre Taylor, Mils Muliaina, Jackson Willison, Bundee Aki, Alipati Leuia, Chris Noakes, Jack Lam, Jarrad Hoeata and Tom McCartney are other New Zealand Super Rugby players to have signed a deal to move overseas after the season.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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