George Turner’s move to Japan is confirmed

Hooker will play under Dave Rennie for Kobelco Kobe Steelers next season

George Turner during the Investec Champions Cup match between Glasgow Warriors and Northampton Saints at Scotstoun Stadium last December. Image: © Craig Watson -
George Turner during the Investec Champions Cup match between Glasgow Warriors and Northampton Saints at Scotstoun Stadium last December. Image: © Craig Watson -

GEORGE TURNER’s long discussed move to Japan has finally been confirmed, with the Scotland hooker set  to play for Kobelco Kobe Steelers in Japan Rugby League One next season. The 31-year-old will play under Dave Rennie, his former head coach at Glasgow Warriors, who took charge of the Steelers in 2022, and will be greeted by another familiar face in former Edinburgh head coach and Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair, who is now Rennie’s No 2 in Japan.

“I’m really looking forward to playing for Kobe,” said Turner, who has 45-caps for Scotland. “I couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity to live and play in Japan, I’ve always wanted to go back since the World Cup.

“Kobe are a great team, and I can’t wait to add whatever I can to their success. It’s a wonderful adventure for myself but also my family, who will gain so much from the experience. Japanese rugby is super exciting and I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge!”

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Turner’s departure from Glasgow Warriors was confirmed last month, but he still has a chance to sign off on his seven year association with the club on a high with France Smith’s side two wins away from URC glory. First they face a semi-final clash Munster in Limerick this coming Saturday night, and if they win that game then it will be either the Bulls or Leinster away in the final the following weekend.

Turner came off the bench to help the Warriors beat the Stormers in the URC quarter-finals last weekend in his first match since fracturing his foot during the Six Nations.

His move to Japan would appear to put his international career on hold for the time being, but Warriors head coach Franco Smith has suggested that Turner could return to Scotland in time for the 2025-26 season, when the build-up to the 2027 World Cup will begin in earnest.

“Obviously, George has played a massive role here,” said Smith last week. “But I must say there’s a couple of young boys – that will count in Scotland’s favour, I think. Gregor Hiddleston and Angus Fraser will come through, and by having guys like Johnny Matthews and George in the building the whole time maybe would have limited their opportunities.

“I would put a positive spin on it. I know he’s going to go for a year, and we’ll see …  You never know, he comes back in a year or two. It’s going to be important for Scotland as well. But in the meantime, if I was Gregor, for example, I would see this as an opportunity to see some other guys putting their hands up for responsibility even beyond 2027.”

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About David Barnes 4002 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Good luck George, a well deserved move for you and your family, a fantastic experience awaits.
    I’m sure you reached out to Greig for a wee bit of intel 👍🙂

  2. Whatever happened to Jake Kerr? Moved from Leicester to Bristol and not sure where he is now or if he’s still delivering the goods. Surprised Cherry didn’t get more caps, very underrated IMO, and a bit thin on the ground in terms of proven hookers. Never thought Turner was quite the full package but wish him well for his time in Japan.

  3. If anyone has earned such an opportunity, it’s Turner! All the best. We could all see what Saturday meant to you, and it’s reciprocated, would be delighted to see you back somewhere in Scottish rugby coaching the young uns.

  4. Best of luck to George, hope it goes well for him.

    Well it’s up to the youngsters to step up and for Grant Stewart to take advantage and nail down a regular place in the Glasgow team.

    • Rory. How has Glasgow treated him.?
      I understood this this to be a once in a lifetime opportunity that he has grabbed with both hands.

  5. Good luck to him in Japan, I’m sure it will be a great experience. Also not to forget Fraser Brown is retiring so between them that’s a lot of experience for the club to lose in one go. Great opportunities for the youngsters to develop and also for Matthews to do some mentoring.

    • Grant Stewart is 29 and isnt going to get any better, no offence to him but I hope he’s nowhere near the 23. We need to get game time in Hiddleston and Fraser.

  6. A great player, but this is an excellent opportunity for Hiddleston and Fraser to get more game time, which can only be good for all concerned.

    Fingers crossed Harrison supercedes Cherry as the second choice at Edinburgh to further deepen national team options.

  7. This is a great opportunity for George but also for the hookers at Glasgow, a real chance to give youth a go. Here’s hoping!

    • Wouldn’t hold your breath. Wouldn’t be surprised to see another SA jobber hoover up the contract and game time.

      • “Another SA Jobber”….some rugby fan

        These “jobbers” have provided some of the best moments in our recent six nations history.

  8. Sorry about this.
    But nowhere else to comment from .
    Heard in the ‘Top Tent ‘ at Hawick Mair .Stuart Hogg is coming back to pro rugby with Montpellier .

    His words at this time last year ‘My body is broken ‘
    Is this true or a wind up .
    Any info ?

  9. Best of luck George.
    Thanks for all your efforts for Warriors and Scotland over the years. Hopefully might see you back.


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