2003 Rugby World Cup winners son up for swapping nations - Ruck

2003 Rugby World Cup winners son up for swapping nations

Former Northampton Saints fly-half James Grayson is open to playing international rugby for Japan in the future following last year’s move away from the Premiership.

Fly-half Grayson, who is the son of 2003 Rugby World Cup-winner Paul, joined Mitsubishi Dynobaurs on a short-term contract in November and has now agreed a new two-year deal.

Grayson missed much of the 2023 season because of a stress fracture in his foot and Fin Smith, now an England international, established himself as the regular starting number 10 for Saints.

“Fin’s gone on and done amazing things. I’ve gone over there, been given the reins, taken my opportunity and I’m just really thankful that it’s worked out that way,” Grayson told BBC Radio Northampton.

Having previously played for England’s Under-20 side, he would have to serve a five-year qualifying period to be eligible to play for Japan.

“My partner’s going to move out in September with the dog, if we can get his vaccines sorted. I’m going to dig my teeth in for two years, it’ll be three years in Japan then. You never know which way it might go, I might come back to England, I might carry on in Japan, [I’ll] take it as it comes,” he said.

“International rugby is definitely an ambition of mine. I’m never going to shut out the opportunity to play international rugby, whether that be for England or Japan.

“It’s an amazing country and culture, and if I spend enough time there, then yes, 100%, I’d be open to playing for them.”

England stars who could be swapping nations…

Although some players are more likely to do so than others, here we discuss five players who could potentially switch.

#1. Manu Tuilagi to Samoa

In an extensive interview with The Daily Telegraph, the youngest Tuilagi revealed that while “England is very special to me, of course, but my heart and home is still Samoa.”

“I’d love to pull on the blue jersey one day,”

Manu, who is named after the Samoan national side, is the odd one out of his rugby-playing brothers, as Anitelea, Alesana, Henry and Freddie all opted to play for Manu Samoa rather than any of the European nations they spent time living in throughout their professional careers.

Tuilagi could be available for Samoa in 2027, Rugby World Cup though time isn’t on his side as he would be 35 by then.

Manu Tuilagi of England during the Autumn Nations Match between England and Australia at Twickenham on 13 November 2021. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK