England lock George Kruis will end his 12-year association with Saracens and likely put his international career on hold after agreeing to a move to Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights on a 12-month deal.
England’s Rugby Football Union does not select overseas-based players unless in “exceptional circumstances” — a scenario the governing body rarely triggers.
The 30-year-old Kruis, whose 45 games for England include an appearance as a substitute in the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa last year, is leaving Saracens after the European champions were relegated from the English top flight following salary-cap breaches.
The one-year deal with the Ota-based Wild Knights contains an option to extend for a further 12 months. The club has also signed Wales center Hadleigh Parkes.
Kruis said he would only play for Saracens if he was to return to English club rugby.
England coach Eddie Jones said the move offers Kruis “the opportunity for a different rugby and cultural experience which will allow him to continue to grow and develop as a player and as an individual.”
“George is a tough, well-respected member of our team,” Jones said, “and I respect his decision.”
Kruis’ fellow Saracens and England lock, Maro Itoje, has yet to commit to another season with the club from north London. Three other England players — Billy Vunipola, Jamie George and Elliot Daly — have said they will stay at Saracens, though, despite the upcoming relegation.
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