All Blacks forward Jackson Hemopo admits the decision to further his career in Japan wasn't an easy one to come to.

The Highlanders and Manawatu stalwart will leave home shores after the World Cup to join the Mitsubishi DynaBoars in the Japanese Top League. He's one of a number of Kiwi players who will be making the move offshore to continue their careers, and told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave it was a difficult choice to make.

"Weighing up my options, it was a pretty big opportunity to turn down and you never know if the same opportunity will come up in the future," Hemopo said. "It's never promised, so it was definitely a tough decision.

"At the moment it's only a year so if I do get cold feet and miss New Zealand I could try come back and have another crack here. I'm just planning it a year at a time at the moment.

Advertisement

"It's a pretty scary move, but it was a big opportunity I couldn't turn down so I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out."

Jackson Hemopo makes a run against Argentina. Photo / Photosport
Jackson Hemopo makes a run against Argentina. Photo / Photosport

Hemopo will turn out for Manawatu this weekend looking to stake his claim to an All Blacks World Cup jersey one last time before the squad is named. Hemopo was one of nine players released to Mitre 10 Cup teams for this weekend's fixtures, with the World Cup squad being named on Wednesday.

Hemopo is thought to be in a battle for the final spot in the loose forwards behind Kieran Read, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane and Matt Todd, with Vaea Fifita and Luke Jacobson also candidates to fill the role.

Heading into this weekend's game, Hemopo said he didn't know where he stood with the All Blacks selectors.

"I've got no idea to be honest. They don't give anything away in camp, they just tell us to be ready just in case. None of the players really know until the team is named. We're left out in the blue just as much as everyone else."

Hemopo will run out at lock this weekend for the Turbos after spending most of his time in the All Blacks camp working in the role.

He said he's learnt the blindside flanking roles as well, but indications were that, if selected for the World Cup, the All Blacks planned to use his utility value.

"I'm not quite sure where I stand, whether I'm playing lock or six. The last few weeks with the All Blacks I've been training more in the lock role and learning the six roles just in case."

Advertisement