Former Springbok coach Jake White has recruited four South Africans to join his Japanese side Toyota Verblitz.
White recently completed a three-year coaching stint with the French club, Montpellier, and has now taken up a new post in Japan, where he has been quick to make his mark.
Indeed, when White first joined Montpellier, he immediately sought to recruit a number of South African players as part of his turnaround plan at the French club.
Although there were rumours that this was a move that didn’t win favour with the French, while many also opposed the brand of rugby advocated by White, it initially reaped impressive results at Montpellier.
White has now wasted no time in luring more South Africans to his new Japanese club, including former Springboks Juan Smith and Gio Aplon. Talented Bulls lock Jason Jenkins and Kings flyhalf Lionel Cronje will also play under White next season.
Smith was a key member of White’s World Cup-winning Bok team in 2007, and will now rejoin his former coach after playing his last game for Toulon in Sunday’s 22-16 loss to Clermont in the Top 14 final.
Aplon last played for the Boks in 2012, but has been a star performer for Grenoble in recent seasons, with White repeatedly stating that the dynamic fullback was one of the top performing players in France.
Jenkins is an abrasive young player who will add physicality to the Verblitz squad, while Cronje will add experience at flyhalf, with the 28-year-old having enjoyed a stellar Super Rugby season with the Kings up to this point.
The 2017-18 Japanese Top League season will kick off on August 18, with Toyota Verblitz set to open their campaign against Yamaha Júbilo.