Scotland lock Scott MacLeod admits the lure of playing in Japan was too strong to turn down despite his move to Kobe Steelers spelling the end of his international career.
MacLeod won his last international cap as a replacement for captain Al Kellock in the 24-6 RBS 6 Nations defeat to Wales.
The 32-year-old won 24 caps in total but only really established himself as a regular in 2008 when he started five straight games.
And he admits calling time on his international career was the toughest part of his decision to move to the Far East.
“That was the hard part,” MacLeod told the Scotsman. “Playing for Scotland was a dream for me growing up and it still feels like a dream when I am selected, and I pull on the jersey.
“It is hard to explain to people who have never experienced it, but it is the pinnacle and I don’t feel any different about it now to when I made my debut in 2004.
“Japan had been in the back of my mind for a while. It goes back to the Scarlets, where me and my wife Adele were friendly with Filo Tiatia’s family, and Simon Maling’s, and they had played in Japan and raved about it.
“They said it was a wonderful, unique experience for the family, a great educational thing that broadened the mind, and they said if you ever got the chance you should think about it.
“When it came up this year Adele and I thought with the kids nearly one and nearly three now might be a good time before they reach school-age. And at 32 I might not get this opportunity again.”