Lions centre Lionel Mapoe has signed a one-season contract with Japanese Top League club Kubota Spears.
However, he will be rejoining the Lions for their Super rugby campaign next year.
According to his agent, he needs a new challenge and to experience something different. Mapoe had a remarkable season for the Lions and as a result was included in the Springbok training squad.
However, with the Japan Top League season running from August to February, players often compromise their Bok chances by joining overseas clubs. His agent says he joined the club to set himself up financially after rugby.