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Brumbies sign Japanese playmaker Tatekawa

Harumichi Tatekawa has been described as a Japanese Matt Toomua

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Article Published: Saturday 4 January 2014|

2013 Super Rugby finalists the Brumbies have signed Japanese playmaker Harumichi Tatekawa from Kubota Spears.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham says that Super Rugby fans won't have long to wait to see Tatekawa in action as he is a contender for a Super Rugby debut in round one.

The twenty-three-year-old has been described as Japan's version of Wallabies and Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua.

The backline player was recommended to the Brumbies by former Brumbies and Wallabies coach Eddie Jones who is now Japan head coach.

Wallabies great Toutai Kefu has descibed Tatekawa as "the best Japanese player I've seen".

"How that translates to Super Rugby is a bit unknown," said Kefu, who coaches Tatekawa's Kubota club.

"I think he can do it, he's a talented kid. Skill-wise he can do everything and he's a big, tough boy."

"He's like Matt Toomua, but he's still another foot taller than Toomua and that's unusual in Japan."

The 94 kilogram player is 181-centimetres tall and is a back-line power player in the Japanese competition.

Tatekawa's arrival in Australian Super Rugby follows the Melbourne Rebels recruitment of hooker Shota Horie for the past two seasons.

While there has been talk of Japan getting a Super Rugby team one day it has been reported that the ARU are investigating dispensation for all five Australian teams to add an Asian player to their respective rosters to develop the game in that region.

Larkham says that his Japanese signing is not coming to Canberra to make up the numbers and he has backed him to push for a place in the Brumbies' starting XV in the season opener against the Reds next month.

The Brumbies will have a translator at training to help Tatekawa settle in to the club when he arrives next month.

Tatekawa will give the Brumbies some extra depth while Wallabies inside-centre Christian Lealiifano recovers from ankle surgery that has ruled him out until March.

"Another player in that 10-12 position is great for us, it allows depth and we're quite lucky to have Haru," Larkham told the Canberra Times.

"There's going to be a lot of competition from those positions and Haru will definitely be pushing for one of those spots given his form for the Japanese team.

"Having played over in Japan for three years, they know the rugby lingo and that won't be a problem.

"The standard of footy in Japan is a little bit less than Super Rugby, but I think individual players have the skills and when you put them in a good system you'll see improvement.

"I've got no doubt Haru will be ready to play. Sometimes they don't get exposure at high-level rugby and this is a good opportunity."

Kefu said that Tatekawa is a "unique" talent but added that his biggest challenge will be to get used to the increased tempo and physicality of Super Rugby.

"By letting these players go to Australia, it's going to snowball development and make them better players by opening a pathway," said Kefu.

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