The start of the new Japanese Top League season has been postponed until early or mid-February after 62 players and employees across a whopping 6 teams tested positive. This means that Japanese fans will have to wait another month to see All Black Beauden Barrett in action for the very first time.
Of the 62 positive cases, 13 are from Toyota Verblitz, 7 are at Suntory Sungoliath (Barret’s club), and 24 are at the Canon Eagles. Since confirmation of the initial test results were received earlier this week, 5 more positive cases were reported by the Toshiba Brave, 10 by the Kobe Kobelco Steelers, and the remaining three by club NEC Green Rockets.
Several All Blacks and Kiwis are scattered across Japanese clubs, currently including Ben Smith and Aaron Cruden, who both play for the Kobe Kobelco Steelers. Another former All Black and also former Crusader, Matt Todd, is one of several New Zealanders playing for Toshiba, and former Highlander Rob Thompson, and former Chiefs players Michael Allardice and Tiaan Falcon are both currently playing for Toyota.
Former All Blacks coach Sir Steve Hansen is of course a lead advisor for Toyota Verblitz.
As for Barrett, who this year took a sabbatical from the Blues, but is due to return in time for the All Blacks’ 2021 test programme, will probably still get the opportunity complete a full season on Japanese soil. Since the plans for the season’s ending on May 23 remains on track despite the push-out, Barret will likely get to finish his stunt away on a high note before making his return to New Zealand.
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