Duane Vermeulen signs for Japanese side Kubota Spears

South Africa No 8 Duane Vermeulen has signed for Japanese Top League side Kubota Spears.

The 31-year-old has been out of contract since leaving French giants Toulon at the end of the Top 14 season and had been linked with a move back to South Africa, as well as a switch to Premiership side Bath.

But he has opted to sign for the Spears, who are currently coached by former Bulls boss Frans Ludeke and whose squad includes a number of other South Africans in Ruan Botha, Jean Droste, Lappies Labuschagne, Burger Odendaal and Gerhard van den Heever.

“I am honoured and grateful to be a member of the Kubota family and looking forward to joining the Spears,” Vermeulen told the Spears’ official website.

“I promise to share the experience I have been honoured with so far with everyone at the Kubota Spears and to do my best both on and off the field.”

It is understood Vermeulen has put pen to paper on a short-term deal for the 2018-19 Top League season with the Spears, who are looking to improve on their 11th-placed finish in the 16-team top division last term.

It has also been reported that Vermeulen is in discussions with teams in South Africa and England about a possible link-up in 2019, with national coach Rassie Erasmus keen to ensure Vermeulen remains part of his plans for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Capped 42 times by South Africa since his international debut back in 2012, Vermeulen has previously indicated he would not be available for this year’s Rugby Championship, having played a key role in the Boks’ recent series victory over England.