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Southland Stags pushed outside ‘comfort zone’ in unique visit to Japan

Robyn Edie

Rugby Southland general manager Andrew Moreton.

Rugby Southland general manager Andrew Moreton says last week’s venture to Japan provided the Stags with an ideal preseason boost and he is hopeful the relationship can continue in the future.

A touring group of 29 players and 11 Southland and Highlanders management spent the week in Japan last week.

They were involved in various activities and finished with a game against top Japanese club the Panasonic Wild Knights on Friday, which the Wild Knights won 22-7.

The opportunity came about through a relationship with the Highlanders and Panasonic, with the Stags team playing against the Wild Knights under the Highlanders Bravehearts banner.

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The trip didn’t come at a cost to Rugby Southland.

Highlanders players Malakai Fekitoa and Greg Pleasants-Tate also made the trip in ambassador roles.

While Fekitoa ran the water during the game against Panasonic, Pleasants-Tate did pull the boots on and line up alongside the Stags players in the unique fixture.

The game was played in front of 12,000 people in Kumagaya and proved to be a tough hit out for the Stags as they count down to the start of the Mitre 10 Cup season this week.

Moreton said it provided the Stags squad with a big week together training and going over the season plans in…

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