15:23 26 January 2017
Rugby: Panasonic flyer Kodama to play Super Rugby for Rebels
TOKYO, Jan. 26, Kyodo
Panasonic Wild Knights and Japan wing Kentaro Kodama signed a one-year contract with the Melbourne Rebels, the Australian Super Rugby franchise announced Thursday.
The Keio University graduate, who turns 25 on Saturday, played one game for the Sunwolves last season following an impressive Asia Rugby Championship for Japan, during which he scored seven tries in four tests, including five on his debut against South Korea.
"I am so grateful for this opportunity with Melbourne Rebels," Kodama said on the team's web site.
"I look forward to learning from the world's best players and taking part in a game."
Kodama is the second Brave Blossom to have signed for the Rebels for the 2017 season, Amanaki Lelei Mafi having put pen to paper in August 2016.
The pair follow in the footsteps of Japan internationals Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki, Male Sa'u and Kotaro Matsushima, who have all represented the Rebels since the club's inception in 2011.
Rebels General Manager of Rugby Operations Baden Stephenson said he was delighted Kodama would continue the side's close association with Japan.
"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. (He) has shown through his performances that his speed and nouse for scoring tries will add depth to the backline and positively contribute to the Rebels program."
Ironically, Kodama's first glimpse of his teammates could well be as an opponent as he is expected to line up for the Wild Knights against the Rebels on Feb. 11, the opening day of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens, before joining the Super Rugby club at the end of the two-day tournament.