Former Hurricanes wing Andre Taylor hoping to earn international honours for Japan
Andre Taylor is hoping to live out his Rugby World Cup dream by re-commiting to a deal in Japan.
The former Manawatu, Taranaki and Hurricanes outside back has inked a deal with Sanix in the Japanese Top League.
Taylor was considering a return to New Zealand last year, but said the possibility of playing international rugby played a role in his decision to stay in Japan.
"I enjoy it over there and obviously I am not far off being available for Japan so I am going target that," he said.
He has already racked up three years in Japanese rugby and should satisfy World Rugby's residency rules later this year.
From there he hoped to crack the Jamie Joseph-coached Japan international side, with one eye on the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
"Every kid who plays rugby in New Zealand wants to be an All Black, but some times your dreams have to change," he said. "Playing international rugby is a big honour no matter who you play for. It is something that I want to tick off and hopefully I can achieve it. I still have to work hard to get there."
This will be his first season with Sanix after spending the last three campaigns with the Kintetsu Liners.
At Sanix, he will join Kiwi-born Japanese internationals Karne Hesketh and Bryce Robbins and come under the coaching of former All Blacks first five-eighth Carlos Spencer, who is the assistant coach.
Hesketh scored the match-winning try as Japan upset South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
"[Sanix] play some attacking rugby so they should suit me well," Taylor said.
Sanix will be an upgrade for Taylor after Kintetsu struggled in the 2016/17 season.
"The team did not do too well last year and I had a bit of an up and down season with injuries," he said. "The year before we had the same core guys and we did quite well. I am not too sure what our performances was due to [this year]."
The side finished the season 13th out of 16 teams.
That left them in the relegation play-offs, but the team survived with Taylor scoring two tries in their final match.
He was the only Kintetsu player selected in the Top League All Stars team who played the Sunwolves before the start of the Super Rugby season.
While wing and fullback have been his primary positions, he also slot in at centre for a number of games and is a goal kicking option.
Taylor played 54 games for the Hurricanes between 2010 and 2014, before inking his first deal in Japan.
In 2012 he came close to the All Blacks following his 10-try season for the Hurricanes.
He made his provincial debut for Manawatu in 2007 while still a student at Palmerston North Boys' High School and transferred to Taranaki in 2010.
Taylor has been back in Palmerston North in the Japanese off-season and has been helping coach the the College Old Boys backs in Manawatu club rugby.
He heads back to Japan for the extended pre-season programme next week.