Stormers lock off to Japan

Stormers lock JD Schickerling has sealed a move to Japan after the Kobe Steelers announced him as one of their three new signings on Wednesday.

Schickerling was heavily linked with a move to Japan, with Stormers coach John Dobson confirming back in March that he would leave the team at the end of October for a “sabbatical”.

Kobe Steelers, who play in Japan’s top division, on Wednesday confirmed the signing of the former Junior Springbok for the new season.

Back in 2016, the towering lock was included in a South Africa A squad that played a two-match series against a touring England Saxons team, and he also received a call-up to the Springboks in 2018.

However, it’s been openly acknowledged that in 2019 and at the start of 2020, though, the feeling was that Schickerling’s career trajectory had ‘stalled’ amid injuries and inconsistency.

He began to rediscover his top form in the 2020 Currie Cup, but again has struggled with injuries at the start of the 2021 season.

“Thanks to Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers for giving me the opportunity to play in Japan,” Schickerling said in a news release. “I am really looking forward to this new challenge.

“I can’t wait to meet my new teammates and experience the wonderful Japanese culture. I’m ready for a new chapter in my career. I hope I can fit in with the team as soon as possible and contribute in every situation I need. I am looking forward to it.”

It will be Schickerling’s first move abroad, having played the entirety of his professional club rugby to date with either Western Province or the Stormers since making his debut in 2014.

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Dylan Jack