Melbourne based Super Rugby franchise the Rebels have signed Japanese international winger Kentaro Kodama for the 2017 Super Rugby season.
Kodama will go from opponent to teammate with the 24-year-old expected to line up for the Panasonic Wild Knights against the Rebels on the opening day of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens before he joins the Super Rugby club at the end of the two-day tournament.
“Kentaro is a rising star of Japanese Rugby so we’re pleased that he’s committed to continuing his Super Rugby career with the Rebels,” Melbourne Rebels General Manager Rugby Baden Stephenson said.
“Kentaro has shown through his performances in the 2016 Top League and international Tests that his speed and nouse for scoring tries will add depth to the backline and positively contribute to the Rebels program.”
The winger announced his international arrival with a remarkable five-try debut in Japan’s 85-0 victory over Korea at Yokohama in April before amassing seven tries in four appearances for the Cherry Blossoms.
Kodama, who has signed a one-year contract with the Rebels, was a member of the Sunwolves maiden Super Rugby squad in 2016 and made his debut against the Sharks in Durban.
Kodama has been a consistent performer and try-scorer for the Panasonic Wild Knights, who won the 2015 Top League and finish in the top four in 2016.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity with Melbourne Rebels,” Kodama said,
“I look forward to learning from the world’s best players and taking part in a game.”
Kodama will join Japanese teammate and international marquee Amanaki Mafi at the Rebels in 2017.
Kodama will join a growing list of Japanese players to represent the Rebels since the club’s inception in 2011 – following Shota Horie, Male Sau, Keita Inagaki and Kotaro Matsushima.
The Melbourne Rebels return to action in February with two trial matches against the Force (6 February) and Reds (14 February), along with the much anticipated Brisbane Global Rugby Tens (11-12 February).
The Rebels will kick off the 2017 Super Rugby season against the Blues at AAMI Park on Thursday 23 February.