Male Sa'u is coming home.

One of Japan's World Cup stars, the midfielder will join the Blues in Super Rugby for the 2016 season.

The Auckland-born utility back has signed a one-year contract. The 28-year-old former Counties Manukau player is a replacement for five-eighths Dan Bowden, who has been granted an early release by mutual consent to pursue rugby opportunities overseas.

Bowden had another year to run in his Blues contract, but had an injury-hit ITM Cup with Northland which prevented him even getting back on the field.


The signing follows the recent announcement of former All Black and Super Rugby centurion Tanerau Latimer who, like Sa'u, is joining the Blues from Japan.

Sa'u, a former age-group national representative, having played for the New Zealand Under 19s at the 2006 world championships, moved to Japan in 2008 where he has played for Yamaha Jubilo. Last year he played for the Melbourne Rebels during Super Rugby.

He has played 26 times for Japan under Eddie Jones since his selection in 2013, including a key role in the outstanding performances by Japan at the recent Rugby World Cup.

"We are thrilled to have Male join us. He is a strong runner to the line and is now an experienced player at international level," said Blues head coach Tana Umaga.

"Male showed at the World Cup that he is a strong and combative player. He can also play in a number of positions in the backline which is invaluable.

"We have a very young team and Male will add experience as well as undoubted ability."

10 Dec, 2015 8:35am
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Sa'u said he was looking forward to the opportunity and being able to spend time in his home city of Auckland with family and friends.

"I have always admired the way the Blues have played and now I also have the chance to play under Tana and the other Blues coaching staff, which I believe will help me with my rugby going forward," said Sa'u.

"I left Counties Manukau before Tana arrived, but I've spoken to some of the guys who have been under him, and they said Tana helped them a lot with their rugby development.

"I am going to give it 100 percent, just hard work. I like the attacking style of the Blues. There will be heaps of new faces there but they can give you that excitement in playing a new style of rugby."

Sa'u is expected to join the Blues next month.