Japan captain Michael Leitch makes retirement plans clear

Jan 30, 2024

Japan captain Michael Leitch has emphasised that he has no plan on retiring despite now being the age of 35, and has set his sights on making the World Cup in 2027.

The flanker became Japan’s most capped player in World Cups recently in France as he took part in his fourth tournament, but has no plans on slowing down. Ahead of the new Japan Rugby League One season, the 84-cap international not only looked at the upcoming domestic season recently, but beyond the horizon at his Test career over the next four years, where he said he will do his best to make Australia in 2027.

Should Leitch manage to make the next World Cup, he would become the fourth member of an extremely elite club of players who have taken part in five World Cups, which includes Samoa’s Brian Lima, and the Italian duo of Mauro Bergamasco and Sergio Parisse.

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“The World Cup is coming up in four years,” he said, as reported by tokyoheadline.com. “So I want to take on the challenge. This tournament made me realise just how high the barriers in the world are, so in order to overcome that, I’ll first be active in the domestic leagues that are about to start. I will do my best to win the jersey one more time.”

Leitch also explained how he has managed to remain at the top of his game for so long, having made his international debut in 2008 at the age of 20. He said: “The most important thing is to work harder than your opponent. I think the most important thing is not just to run a lot, but to work smartly and hard.”

For now, Leitch’s focus will be on Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo.