The Chiefs have signed an experienced Japan international prop to replace injured All Black Nepo Laulala.
Tighthead specialist Hiroshi Yamashita, 30, has agreed to play this season for the 2012 and 2013 champions, with the contract confirmed by his club Kobe Kobelco Steelers.
Yamashita has played 49 Tests for Japan since 2009, appearing in all their four pool games at last year’s World Cup. He came off the bench in their 34-32 upset of South Africa.
He will join the Chiefs next week, linking with Japan captain and loose forward Michael Leitch.
“Because this is a new challenge for me, I will give my all, my very best, and show what I’m capable of,” Yamashita said in a statement.
Four-Test prop Laulala suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, having shifted north from the Crusaders over the off-season.
Yamashita adds to a small but growing group of Japanese Test players in New Zealand Super Rugby squads.
Halfback Fumiaki Tanaka is an established member of the champion Highlanders squad while the Blues signed midfield back Male Sa’u in December.