Angus MacDonald off to Japan

NZPA     01 Sep 2007

Two-Test All Black Macdonald, 26, has signed up with Toyota for two years, so this season will be his last with Auckland.

"Playing for the Blues and Auckland has been an honour and I will find it very hard to leave those squads. But I am excited about the future and really looking forward to playing and living in Japan," said Macdonald.

"It is important to look ahead and try and make the most of your career and experience different cultures and lifestyles while you have the freedom to do so," he said.

Auckland and New Zealand officials were quick to offer him all the best.

Auckland coach Pat Lam said he was a key leader within the Auckland squad and his attitude, despite some injury setbacks in recent years, has been commendable.

Blues coach David Nucifora said he could understand why players took up such offers.

"Angus is young, fit, strong and a very good player. He will have a lot to offer in Japan and in this professional era, players just like Gus are grabbing these opportunities with both hands.

"We'll miss him in the Blues camp but he goes with our best wishes."

Blues and Auckland chief executive Andy Dalton said that while disappointed to lose Macdonald "opportunities like this are very tempting".

"Fortunately he is young enough to travel and play overseas, experience a different culture and then hopefully return to us further down the track."

New Zealand Rugby Union professional rugby manager Neil Sorensen thanked Macdonald for his service to New Zealand rugby through the grades to All Blacks level.

"He has worn the black jersey with pride and we would like to thank him for his contribution to the game here," Sorensen said.

"We wish him all the best as he starts a new chapter of his rugby career and will welcome him back when he returns."

Macdonald, son of All Blacks lock Hamish Macdonald, will move to Japan early next year.

He played 48 times for Auckland, and 43 times for the Blues.