Super Rugby
Japan Rugby World Cup star Male Sa'u returns home to Auckland to join Blues
ESPN Staff
December 13, 2015
Male Sa'u featured strongly for Japan at the Rugby World Cup© Stu Forster/Getty Images

Auckland-born Japan Rugby World Cup star Male Sa'u has signed a one-year Super Rugby contract to play for the Blues in 2016, the former Counties Manukau player replacing Dan Bowden after the latter was granted an early release by mutual consent to pursue rugby opportunities overseas.

Sa'u, an age-group New Zealand representative, moved to Japan in 2008, playing for Yamaha Jubilo and winning 26 Test caps for the Brave Blossoms under Eddie Jones after his initial call-up in 2013, including at the recent Rugby World Cup, but he played Super Rugby in 2015 for Melbourne Rebels.

"We are thrilled to have Male join us. He is a strong runner to the line and is now an experienced player at international level," Blues head coach Tana Umaga said. "Male showed at the World Cup that he is a strong and combative player. He can also play in a number of positions in the backline which is invaluable. We have a very young team and Male will add experience as well as undoubted ability."

Sa'u said he was looking forward to the opportunity and being able to spend time in his home city of Auckland with family and friends.

"I have always admired the way the Blues have played and now also the chance to play under Tana and the other Blues coaching staff which I believe will help me with my rugby going forward," he said.

"I left Counties Manukau before Tana arrived, but I've spoken to some of the guys who have been under him, and they said Tana helped them a lot with their rugby development.

"I am going to give it 100%, just hard work. I like the attacking style of the Blues. There will be heaps of new faces there but they can give you that excitement in playing a new style of rugby."

Former Highlanders and Crusaders player Bowden, 29, joined the Blues this year, returning to New Zealand after four years in England, but he featured in just six games as a result of foot and groin injuries.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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