Former Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru discussed his decision to retire at the end of the upcoming Top League season on Wednesday, saying he has nearly emptied the tanks after a lifetime spent playing rugby.
The 34-year-old, who shot to stardom after scoring 24 points for the Brave Blossoms in their famous 34-32 victory over South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, said he has just enough energy left for one final season with Yamaha Jubilo.
"I'm sad to finish my time as a player but I've been running with all of my strength for 32 years (since starting rugby)," Goromaru told a press conference in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan.
"I only have enough competitive will and physical strength left for this one last season."
Goromaru said that when he signed with Jubilo as a 22-year-old out of university rugby powerhouse Waseda, he had "resolved to retire" when he reached the age of 35. He will hit that milestone in March, roughly halfway through the season.
"In the season I have left, I will play for all I'm worth and with a sense of gratitude in my heart," said Goromaru, who said he has yet to decide on a path after he has done playing.
A native of Fukuoka Prefecture known for his kicking prowess, Goromaru earned 57 caps for Japan and was a driving force for the Brave Blossoms during their historic 2015 World Cup campaign in England.
After the World Cup, Goromaru's iconic pre-kick stance was mimicked throughout Japan. Everywhere, it seemed, people were holding their hands together to form a triangle in front of their face with the thumbs at the base and index fingers touching at the apex -- as Goromaru did when lining up kicks.
He spent his entire career with Jubilo aside from short spells in Australia and France with the Reds and Toulon, respectively.
The 2021 Japan Rugby Top League season -- the final season before the launch of a new professional competition in 2022 -- is scheduled to kick off on Jan. 16 and conclude in May.