Dreadlocked Japanese crowd favourite Horie to retire from rugby

TOKYO – Japan rugby international Shota Horie (picture) said Wednesday he will retire at the end of this season after playing in four World Cups including a 2019 quarter-final on home soil.

The 37-year-old hooker, instantly recognisable for his long dreadlocks tied up in bunches, has won 76 caps for Japan and is a crowd favourite.

He played in Japan’s “Miracle of Brighton” win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup and was instrumental in their run to the last eight four years later.

He also played at this year’s World Cup in France, making his final appearance as Japan lost to Argentina to miss out on a place in the knock-out round.

“I decided about a year and a half ago that I wanted to play at the World Cup and then the club season, then retire regardless of how results went,” he told reporters.

Horie will kick off the new Japan Rugby League One season with his team Saitama Wild Knights on Sunday.

He has been named Japan’s domestic league player of the year twice.

He also had stints in Super Rugby with Australia’s Melbourne Rebels and the Tokyo-based Sunwolves. – AFP