Brumbies halfback Matt Lucas will join Japanese Top League side Ricoh next season after being released from the ACT franchise a year early.
Lucas signed a new deal with ACT for 2020 back in May but on Friday, the club announced it had agreed to release the scrumhalf from that contract extension.
The 27-year-old has been in Canberra for the past two seasons after a stint with the Waratahs but hasn't been able to secure a regular start with the emergence of Joe Powell and Ryan Lonergan in the past year, especially.
This is not the first time Lucas has had a taste of Japanese rugby, having played with Suntory last season.
“I have really enjoyed my time at the Brumbies and will treasure the memories that I have made with the club,” Lucas said of his departure.
“The Brumbies environment and culture is one that I have treasured. The way in which the Brumbies wider community have embraced me has been very special and playing at GIO Stadium in front of some extremely loyal fans over the last two years is something that I won’t forget.
“This was a terrific opportunity for me, and I am thankful to the Brumbies for agreeing to release me early from my contract to head to Japan. It’s an exciting time for me and I am looking forward to what’s ahead.”
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said he understood why Lucas had opted to move on.
“Whilst we are sorry to see Matt leave, we understand this is a really good opportunity for him at this stage of his career,” Plus500 Brumbies Head Coach Dan McKellar commented.
“Matt has been a very important player in our group for the last two seasons. He is a competitor, drives standards and he has played a role in helping to develop our younger players.
"We wish Matty all the best for the future.”
Lucas's release comes after speculation that returning halfback Nic White has nominated the Brumbies as his preferred Super Rugby destination.
White is set to return to the English Premiership for one more season before he makes his official comeback in Super Rugby, though his playing return mightn't come until 2021.
He is yet to officially ink a deal with a Super Rugby side but it is believed he is keen to return to his former rugby home.
The Waratahs and Reds have both locked in their apparent no. 9s of the future while the Rebels could be on the hunt for a scrumhalf with the looming departure of Will Genia and the absence of Michael Ruru but they are believed to have had little contact with White since he signalled his intent to return home.