Flop Goromaru set to return to Japan

Ayumu Goromaru (AFP)
Ayumu Goromaru (AFP)

Tokyo - Japan's Rugby World Cup star Ayumu Goromaru will return to Japanese Top League side Yamaha Jubilo after a frustrating spell at French Top 14 club Toulon, the fullback said on Monday.

The 31-year-old, who played just a handful of games in France since making his Toulon debut last November, announced on his official website that his contract would begin on July 1.

"Unfortunately I wasn't able to achieve the results I wanted in France," said Goromaru.

"After a year and a half challenging myself overseas I will return home and go into the season with refreshed spirits and a new attitude."

Goromaru shot to fame at the 2015 World Cup when Japan, then coached by current England boss Eddie Jones, won three matches, including an astonishing 34-32 shock over two-time champions South Africa in their opening game.

Japan's talisman moved to Australia to play Super Rugby for the Queensland Reds after impressing at the World Cup, but his season was prematurely cut short by a shoulder injury.

Goromaru enjoys a cult following back in Japan, where life-size statues of the player are sculpted, zoo animals are named after him and he has even been made a "ninja master".

Despite his celebrity status, however, Goromaru struggled in Super Rugby and also subsequently in France, departing with club president Mourad Boudjellal's comments ringing in his ears. 

"We don't want him either," the outspoken businessman told RMC Sport. "We won't be keeping him, he doesn't want to stay."

Current Japan coach Jamie Joseph has expressed his frustration at not having the likes of Goromaru playing in Japan.

The Brave Blossoms missed a step after their swashbuckling World Cup campaign, their momentum stalling because of delays in bringing in a successor to Jones.

When Joseph eventually took over, he complained that the team's blueprints for their dazzling run at the England tournament were lost and that he was forced to start from scratch.

Japan host the next World Cup in 2019, the first to take place in Asia.

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