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2017 Sunwolves squad "Rise as one"

Tigs Man

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The Squad is so far

Head Coach: Jamie Joesph * (Japan head coach)
Attack Coach: Tony Brown * (Highlanders head coach)
Scrum Coach: Shin Hasegawa
Defence Coach: Scott Hansen * (leicester Tigers)
Skills coach: Atsushi Tanabe

FORWARDS
Hooker: Shota Horie (54 Caps Japan)
Hooker: Jaba Bregvadze (49 Caps Georgia)* (Toulouse)
Prop: Keita Inagaki (18 Caps Japan)
Prop: Koo Jiwon
Prop: Asaeli Valu (3 caps Japan)*
Prop: Ruan Smith * (Brumbies 50+ caps)
Prop: Craig Millar * (Highlanders 10 caps)
Lock: Sam Wykes
Lock: Grant Hattingh *
Lock: Kazuki Himeno * (3 caps Japan)
Back Row: Uwe Helu (7 caps Japan)
Back Row: Wimpie van der Walt * (2 caps Japan)
Back Row: Shunsuke Nunomaki (5 caps Japan)
Back Row: Ed Quirk
Back Row: Willie Britz
Back Row: Michael Leitch * (52 caps Japan) (Chiefs 30 caps)

BACKS
Scrum Half: Fumiaki Tanaka (63 caps Japan)
Fly Half: Yu Tamura (48 caps Japan)
Fly Half: Hayden Parker * (Highlanders 30 caps)
Centre: Harumichi Tatekawa (53 caps Japan)
Centre: Timothy Lafaele (7 caps Japan)
Wing: Kenki Fukuoka * (23 caps Japan)
Wing: Akihito Yamada * (23 caps Japan)
Wing: Lomano Lemeki * (4 caps Japan)
Wing: Gerhard van den Heever *
Full Back: Robbie Robinson *

* denotes new signings.
 

Groundhog

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Ah a former Munster player in Van den Heever there
 

munstermuffin

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He will love it there. The lad had speed to burn and is a good player if he can stay fit
 

Bruce_ma_goose

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Wimpie should fit in well into the Sunwolves pack with a name like that. Hope to see the likes of Matsushima and Shigeno re-signed. Some serious Japanese talent on the wings.
 

Tigs Man

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The Japanese re-boot of High 5 isn't going to plan
 

munstermuffin

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What's the relations like now between the Super Rugby team and the club's down in Japan
 

Brigantine

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Koo Jiwon is also 2 caps for Japan, just from last month vs Tonga and France.
 

Bruce_ma_goose

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Puzzled by them hiring a Georgian hooker who presumably can never be Japanese qualified, and certainly not in time for the RWC. How are they to build depth in that position for the national side?
 

Jabby

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i would assume the focus is more aimed at getting some results and build some hype at the moment rather than long term succession
 

Penne Rara

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The Japanese re-boot of High 5 isn't going to plan
There's a bit of Cribb swag in this hi-5. Their new mascott should be wearing his fancy glasses as well
Screenshot_20171206-160950.jpg
 

Brigantine

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The Japanese Top League are holding their Semis and Finals (aka All Japan Rugby Football Championship) this weekend and next.

This is two weeks earlier than usual, to give the Sunwolves a little bit of extra preparation time for the Super Rugby season - they have 5 weekends free before Sunwolves-Brumbies on Feb 24. (Except for the 3 or 4 players with a promotion/relegation playoff in late January)

A look at Sunwolves players playing in the Top League:

Out of 29 Sunwolves players:
Only 3 are not in a Top League club or at least a club competing to be in the Top League next season. (2 ex-Highlanders who still play for Otago, and the Georgian hooker)
2 more are in Honda Heat, whose season has already finished. (winners of the 2nd tier league)
1 further player (new centre Michael Little) is in the 3rd placed team in the 2nd tier league, whose season is over except for a promotion playoff in late January


And 23 are in teams playing in the Top League this weekend and next.
- 12 are in the Semifinals, including 8 playing for Panasonic Wild Knights. (including Inagaki, Horie, Tanaka, Fukuoka and Yamada)
- 2 more in the 5th-place playoffs (including Michael Leitch)
- 6 more in the 9th-place playoffs (including Tatekawa and Tamura)
- 3 more in teams competing for inclusion in the Top League for 2018-19 (2 or 3 will also have a relegation playoff match in late January)

New players not in Tigs Man's list: (also included below)
- Prop: Hencus Van Wyk - Munakata Sanix Blues (in the Top League relegation playoffs)
- Centre: Sione Teaupa (3 caps Japan) - Kubota Spears (in the Top League 9th-place playoffs)
- Centre: Michael Little - Mitsubishi Juko Sagamihara Dynaboars (3rd in the Top Challenge League 2017-18, in promotion playoffs to the Top League)


FORWARDS

Hooker: Shota Horie (55 Caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights (Semifinalists, Champions 5 of the last 10 years)
Hooker: Jaba Bregvadze (49 Caps Georgia) - Toulouse (Top 14)

Prop: Keita Inagaki (18 Caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Prop: Koo Jiwon (2 Caps Japan) - Honda Heat (not in Top League 2017-18, but promoted for 2018-19)
Prop: Asaeli Valu (3 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Prop: Ruan Smith (Brumbies 50+ caps) - Toyota Verblitz (Semifinalists)
Prop: Craig Millar (Highlanders 10 caps) - Otago (Mitre 10 Cup)
Prop: Hencus Van Wyk - Munakata Sanix Blues (in the relegation playoffs)
Lock: Sam Wykes - Panasonic Wild Knights
Lock: Grant Hattingh - Kubota Spears (in the 9th-place playoffs)
Lock: Kazuki Himeno (3 caps Japan) - Toyota Verblitz
Lock
: Uwe Helu (7 caps Japan) - Yamaha Júbilo (Semifinalists, Champions in 2014-15)
Back Row: Wimpie van der Walt (3 caps Japan) - NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes (in the relegation playoffs)
Back Row: Shunsuke Nunomaki (5 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Back Row: Ed Quirk - Canon Eagles (in the 9th-place playoffs)
Back Row: Willie Britz - NTT Shining Arcs (in the 9th-place playoffs)
Back Row: Michael Leitch (53 caps Japan) (Chiefs 30 caps) - Toshiba Brave Lupus (in the 5th-place playoffs)


BACKS
Scrum Half: Fumiaki Tanaka (64 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Fly Half: Yu Tamura (48 caps Japan) - Canon Eagles (in the 9th-place playoffs)
Fly Half: Hayden Parker (Highlanders 30 caps) - Otago (Mitre 10 Cup)
Centre: Harumichi Tatekawa (54 caps Japan) - Kubota Spears (in the 9th-place playoffs)

Centre: Timothy Lafaele (8 caps Japan) - Coca-Coca Red Sparks (in the relegation playoffs)
Centre: Sione Teaupa (3 caps Japan) - Kubota Spears (in the 9th-place playoffs)
Centre: Michael Little - Mitsubishi Juko Sagamihara Dynaboars (not in Top League 2017-18, in promotion playoffs for 2018-19)
Wing: Kenki Fukuoka (24 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Wing: Akihito Yamada (23 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Wing: Lomano Lemeki (5 caps Japan) - Honda Heat (not in Top League 2017-18, but promoted for 2018-19)
Wing: Gerhard van den Heever - Yamaha Júbilo
Full Back: Robbie Robinson - Ricoh Black Rams (in the 5th-place playoffs)

And a look at Japanese internationals who are not also Sunwolves:
(* - in squad 2017, but not confirmed for 2018)

*Hooker: Atsushi Sakate (11) - Panasonic Wild Knights
*Hooker: Takeshi Hino (4) - Yamaha Júbilo
*Prop: Takuma Asahara (9) - Toshiba Brave Lupus (5th-place playoffs)
Prop: Shintaro Ishihara (8) - Suntory Sungoliath (Semifinalists, Champions 4 of the last 10 years)
*Prop: Koki Yamamoto (5) - Yamaha Júbilo
*Lock: Shinya Makabe (36) - Suntory Sungoliath
*Lock: Kotaro Yatabe (15) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Lock: Samuela Anisi (7) - Canon Eagles (9th-place playoffs)
Back Row: Amanaki Mafi (19) - NTT Shining Arcs (9th-place playoffs)
*Back Row: Shuhei Matsuhashi (8) - Ricoh Black Rams (5th-place playoffs)
*Back Row: Shunsuke Nunomaki (5) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Back Row: Fetuani Lautaimi (3) - Toyota Verblitz

*Scrum Half: Keisuke Uchida (22) - Panasonic Wild Knights
*Scrum Half: Yutaka Nagare (9) - Suntory Sungoliath
Fly Half: Rikiya Matsuda (10) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Centre: Ryoto Nakamura (11) - Suntory Sungoliath
Wing: Yoshikazu Fujita (30) - Panasonic Wild Knights
Wing: Male Sa'u (27) - Yamaha Júbilo
*Fullback: Kotaro Matsushima (28) - Suntory Sungoliath
Fullback: Ryuji Noguchi (12) - Tokai University
 
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Penne Rara

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Don't they have a halfback back-up? What happens if the talented Tanaka is sick or injured?

Edit: I'm stupid, read it a bit too fast
 
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Brigantine

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Panasonic Wild Knights team for tomorrow.

All the Sunwolves and Japan internationals are there except one (Kotaro Yatabe). Also David Pocock who will be in their opposition in the first SR game (Brumbies).
So basically the Wild Knights are just the Sunwolves under another name, with some players released...

1 Keita Inagaki, 2 Shota Horie, 3 Asaeli Ai Valu, 4 Sam Wykes, 5 Daniel Heenan (2 au), 6 Ben Gunter, 7 David Pocock (65 au), 8 Koliniasi Holani (45 jp),
9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 10 Takuya Yamasawa, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 12 Rikiya Matsuda, 13 Digby Ioane (35 au), 14 Akihito Yamada, 15 Yasutaka Sasakura,
16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Tamura Emerson, 18 Shohei Hirano, 19 Ryota Hasegawa, 20 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Yuga Hyakutake, 23 Yoshikazu Fujita

Also - wow, names written in Japanese really don't google translate very well! Who is Dragon Corinius? :p
 
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Brigantine

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And Suntory Sungoliath - the team with zero Sunwolves - wins the Top League and the All Japan Championship.

Up until now I've been perplexed by how one of the two teams clearly far ahead of the rest, has none of their players signing to the Sunwolves this season...
But now I'm thinking they want to join SR in their own right!

They would be the natural starting point for a 2nd Japanese franchise. They have the quality, pedigree and (I presume) a ready-made rivalry with the Panasonic Wild Knights = Sunwolves.
 

Brigantine

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I lie!

In the last week the Sunwolves have re-signed Matsushima and Nagare of Suntory Sungoliath.

Also re-signed centre William Tupou who apparently also has 1 cap for Japan - vs Ireland last June (Coca-Cola Red Sparks - 14th in Top League, has a relegation play-off this Sat)
And signed a new wing Hosea Saumaki (Canon Eagles - 10th in Top League)
 

Brigantine

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Also signed Shintaro Ishihara and new lock James Moore (Toshiba Brave Lupus) re-signed hooker Yusuke Niwai (3 caps Japan, Canon Eagles).

[Cross post]
We still have to have 2 or 3 games in Singapore...
Apparently the Rebels game has been moved to Tokyo. It also appears the Stormers game (which was venue TBD) and Bulls game (originally scheduled in Singapore) are also now going to be in Tokyo. So they quietly pulled the pin on the whole Singapore thing, and the Sunwolves get a full 8 home games this year!

They're in the Australian conference, they've signed some top players, Jamie Joseph is their coach, the Top League finished early to allow them proper preparation, and now they've got a fair draw. No excuses for the Sunwolves any more, it's time for them to get results.
 
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Brigantine

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More new signings. (Full Squad)

This time including re-signing Shinya Makabe (Lock, 36 caps), Keisuke Uchida (SH, 22 caps) and new signing Ryoto Nakamura (Centre, 11 caps).

Updating Japanese internationals who are not also Sunwolves:
* - in squad 2017, but not confirmed for 2018
** - in the 2018 squad too, but only for the pre-season
Small font - Fewer than 8 caps


*Hooker: Atsushi Sakate (11) - Panasonic Wild Knights - (they have instead Jaba Bregvadze - 49 caps for Georgia)
**Hooker: Takeshi Hino (4) - Yamaha Júbilo

**Prop: Takuma Asahara (9) - Toshiba Brave Lupus - (they have instead Ruan Smith - 51 caps for the Brumbies)
*Prop: Koki Yamamoto (5) - Yamaha Júbilo

*Lock: Kotaro Yatabe (15) - Panasonic Wild Knights - (they have instead Sam Wykes - 87 caps for the Force and Grant Hattingh - 46 caps for the Bulls)
Lock: Samuela Anisi (7) - Canon Eagles (9th-place playoffs)

*Flanker: Shuhei Matsuhashi (8) - Ricoh Black Rams (5th-place playoffs) - (they have instead Pieter Lappies Labuschagne - 49 caps for the Cheetahs and Bulls)
No.8: Amanaki Mafi (19) - NTT Shining Arcs (9th-place playoffs)

No.8: Fetuani Lautaimi (3) - Toyota Verblitz

Fly Half: Rikiya Matsuda (10) - Panasonic Wild Knights - (they have instead Hayden Parker - 30 caps for the Highlanders)
Wing: Yoshikazu Fujita (30) - Panasonic Wild Knights - (they have instead Gerhard van den Heever - 57 caps for the Bulls and Stormers, and 29 for Munster)
Wing: Male Sa'u (27) - Yamaha Júbilo (last test June 2016)
Fullback: Ryuji Noguchi (12) - Tokai University - (they have instead Robbie Robinson - 44 caps for the Highlanders and Chiefs, but not since 2014)

The list is growing quite short. Only 2 with 20+ caps.

Areas where the Sunwolves still lack experienced depth:

Where Japan lacks depth in the first place:

- Props, Flankers, Centres - Players who debuted for Japan in November are 4th or 5th choice for both Japan and for the Sunwolves. Also the 3rd choice flanker only has 5 caps.
(Props: Asaeli Ai Valu and Jiwon Koo (4th/5th), Flankers: Shunsuke Nunomaki (3rd - 5 caps), Wimpie van der Walt (4th) and Kazuki Himeno (5th Lock/5th Flanker), Centres: Sione Teaupa (4th), Will Tupou (5th - 1 cap last June))


- Fly Half & Fullback - the ones they have are good, but they only have 2 signed.
(Fly Halves: Yu Tamura and Hayden Parker, Fullbacks: Kotaro Matsushima and Robbie Robinson)


Where Japan has depth, but the Sunwolves haven't signed it:

- Hooker - the 3rd choice hooker was dropped from the national team, while 2 who haven't signed still get selected (10 caps and 4 caps).
(Hooker: Yusuke Niwai (3 caps last June))


- Wings - there are 2 experienced Japanese wings who haven't signed, so their 4th choice only has 5 caps, and their 5th choice has only played Top League.
(Wings: Lomano Lava Lemeki (4th - 5 caps), Hosea Saumaki (5th))


Additional players beyond 3rd choice / 5th choice for a position:
Props: Craig Millar (Highlanders 10 caps) and Hencus van Wyk, Locks: James Moore, Centres: Michael Little.
 
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Jabby

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Parker is more than comfortable at super rugby level, he may never have been an All Black in waiting but he's no weak link at this level, dont let him get injured and he'll perform
 

Bruce_ma_goose

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Great to see games moved to Tokyo. Maybe they will make "Top 5" after all...

In their conference. :p
 

Brigantine

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On the Monday before the season starts, they've made 3 more signings.

- Re-signed Japanese 2nd choice Hooker Atsushi Sakate (10 caps)
- Signed Japanese 2nd choice Fullback Ryuji Noguchi (12 caps)
- Signed new Centre Jason Emery (35 caps for the Highlanders) - Joining the other ex-Highlanders Hayden Parker (Fly Half, 30 caps) and Craig Millar (Prop, 10 caps)


The full squad is now 45 strong, including no less than 8 centres. In some sort of order with some bias to developing players for Japan:

FORWARDS
(current Japanese internationals in bold)
  • Hookers:
    • Shota Horie (55 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Jaba Bregvadze (49 caps Georgia) - ex Worcester (AP) & Toulouse (Top 14)
    • Atsushi Sakate (10 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Yusuke Niwai (3 caps Japan, dropped) - Canon Eagles
  • Props:
    • Keita Inagaki (19 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Ruan Smith (Brumbies 50+ caps) - Toyota Verblitz / ex Brumbies
    • Shintaro Ishihara (8 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • Asaeli Valu (3 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Koo Jiwon (2 caps Japan) - Honda Heat
    • Craig Millar (Highlanders 10 caps) - Otago (Mitre 10 Cup) / ex Highlanders
    • Hencus Van Wyk (Bulls 2 caps?) - Munakata Sanix Blues / ex Lions & Bulls
  • Locks:
    • Shinya Makabe (36 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • Sam Wykes (Force 87 caps - Panasonic Wild Knights / ex Force
    • Grant Hattingh (Bulls 46 caps) - Kubota Spears / ex Bulls & Lions
    • Uwe Helu (7 caps Japan) - Yamaha Júbilo
    • Kazuki Himeno (3 caps Japan) - Toyota Verblitz
      • Flanker/Lock: Wimpie van der Walt (3 caps japan)
    • James Moore - Toshiba Brave Lupus / ex Brisbane City (NRC)
  • Flankers:
    • Pieter Lappies Labuschagne (Bulls 22 caps) - Kubota Spears / ex Bulls & Cheetahs
    • Shunsuke Nunomaki (5 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Wimpie van der Walt (3 caps Japan) - NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes
    • Edward Quirk (Reds 39 caps) - Canon Eagles / ex Reds
      • Lock/Flanker: Kazuki Himeno (3 caps Japan)
  • Number 8s:
    • Michael Leitch (53 caps Japan) - Toshiba Brave Lupus / ex Chiefs
    • Yoshitaka Tokunaga (8 caps Japan) - Toshiba Brave Lupus
    • Willie Britz (15 caps Lions) - NTT Shining Arcs / ex Cheetahs & Lions
BACKS
  • Scrum Halves:
    • Fumiaki Tanaka (64 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Keisuke Uchida (22 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Yutaka Nagare (9 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
  • Fly Halves:
    • Yu Tamura (48 caps Japan) - Canon Eagles
    • Hayden Parker (Highlanders 30 caps) - Otago (Mitre 10 Cup) / ex Highlanders
  • Centres:
    • Harumichi Tatekawa (54 caps Japan) - Kubota Spears
    • Ryoto Nakamura (11 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • Jason Emery (Highlanders 35 caps) - Manawatu (Mitre 10 Cup) / ex Highlanders
    • Timothy Lafaele (8 caps Japan) - Coca-Coca Red Sparks
    • Sione Teaupa (3 caps Japan) - Kubota Spears
    • William Tupou (1 cap Japan, dropped) - Coca Cola Red Sparks / ex Force
    • Daishi Murata (2 caps Japan, dropped) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • Michael Little - Mitsubishi Juko Sagamihara Dynaboars / ex North Harbour (Mitre 10 Cup)
  • Wings:
    • Kenki Fukuoka (24 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Akihito Yamada (23 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • Gerhard van den Heever (Stormers 26 caps) - Yamaha Júbilo / ex Stormers & Bulls
    • Lomano Lemeki (5 caps Japan) - Honda Heat
    • Hosea Saumaki - Canon Eagles
  • Full Backs:
    • Kotaro Matsushima (28 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • Ryuji Noguchi (12 caps Japan) - Tokai University
    • Robbie Robinson (Chiefs 24 caps) - Ricoh Black Rams / ex Chiefs & Highlanders
 
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