Wallabies and Brumbies flanker David Pocock has signed a three-year deal with Top League team, Panasonic Wild Knights, from December 2016.
Pocock will commence duties with the Japanese team following the conclusion of the Wallabies end-of-year tour.
Through the association, Pocock will be reunited with Robbie Deans, former Australia coach and head coach of the Wild Knights.
The Panasonic Wild Knights have won the Japanese National Rugby Union competition, Top League, for the last three years. The opportunity presents Pocock with a chance to become accustomed to Japanese conditions prior to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
From February 2017, Pocock will take six months away from the game, pursuing study and interests outside of rugby, before returning to the Panasonic Wild Knights in mid-August 2017.
Pocock remains firmly committed to Australian rugby for the next three years and will return to the Brumbies in March 2018.
He will play for the Brumbies throughout the 2018 and 2019 Super Rugby seasons and hope to put himself in contention to be selected for the Wallabies team during that period of time. At the end of 2019 Pocock will again return to the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan for a further season.
"I’m excited about playing for a club like the Panasonic Wild Knights," he said. "They have a proud history with a great playing group. I’m really looking forward to working with (head coach) Robbie (Deans) and Berrick again. When George Smith came back from Japan in 2012 he had added a few things to his game that we talked about quite a bit, so I’m keen to use the time over there to work on various aspects of my game. Playing with the Wild Knights will hopefully give me a chance to practice new skills and experience a different style of rugby."
"I really appreciate the opportunity the ARU have offered me to stay in the Australian rugby union set up. My goal is to continue to improve and be at my best in 2019."
Head coach of the Wild Knights, Deans commented: "We are delighted that David has chosen Panasonic as a team that can assist him in fulfilling his ambitions in rugby. I have no doubt that he will enjoy the people at the club. David has been typically thorough in mapping out his future and we look forward to having him with us over the next few years."
Pocock added: "I was drawn to the Panasonic Wild Knights for their focus on team building and their company ethos of ‘a Better Life, A Better World’. I’m also not a big city guy so the opportunity to play in Ota is really appealing."