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2017 Sunwolves squad "Rise as one"

Welshdragon2000

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I'm glad to see that the Sunwolves have strengthened for this season and added depth. I think they will do well personally and I'm hoping that they can challenge for the play offs but maybe that's a bit optimistic.
 

Brigantine

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First opponents are the Brumbies, in Tokyo

As a guide to what sort of form they're in, their pre-season results were a 50-19 win over the Rebels, and a 38-26 loss to the Chiefs. By comparison last season those results were 32-3 and 28-10, so the pre-season results are broadly in line with expectations, just a few points better.

According to an article 3 weeks ago, there's a focus on avoiding a slow start to the season. Sounds like they don't want to underestimate the Sunwolves!


AFAIK the Sunwolves haven't had any pre-season matches, except the 3 guys who played for the Wild Knights in the Brisbane 10s, so there won't be any real indication of the Sunwolves' form until kickoff.
 

Bruce_ma_goose

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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
Excellent that they have signed another Japanese international hooker. And I think Noguchi is the very highly thought of University student. Outside of the front five (which I can't assess) this looks a decent squad - stronger than previous years and certainly not whipping boys.

I will miss the scrum half Shigeno, I really liked him but maybe he didn't protect the ball enough.
 

Bruce_ma_goose

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I see 7 or 8 potentially winnable games for the Sunwolves, but will say they will get 5.

Last years schedule was so bad I thought they'd win zero and they got two in the end I think.

Brumbies are the best Oz franchise up front, so they might be able to capitalise on the Sunwolves's Achilles Heel. I think it'll be an opening season loss for the Sunwolves, particularly due to the lack of preseason fixtures which can't help. A win wouldn't stun me though.
 

Brigantine

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Somehow, after 2 rounds, the Sunwolves are the only team to have lost a home game.

Should be joined by about 4 more teams next week though.
 

Brigantine

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Keeping track of who's played where each game so far... [vs Brumbies, Rebels, Sharks, Lions, Chiefs] 'R' = Replacement, '-' = not selected, 'i' = unavailable due to injury, '_' = not in touring squad/training.

I changed the rankings for some positions slightly.


FORWARDS
(current Japanese internationals in bold)
  • Hookers:
    • [2,2,i,_,2] Shota Horie (55 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [R,-,_,_,-] Jaba Bregvadze (49 caps Georgia) - ex Worcester (AP) & Toulouse (Top 14)
    • [-,R,R,R,-] Atsushi Sakate (10 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [-,-,2,2,R] Yusuke Niwai (3 caps Japan, dropped) - Canon Eagles
  • Props:
    • [1,R,_,_,1] Keita Inagaki (19 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [-,-,_,_,_] Ruan Smith (Brumbies 50+ caps) - Toyota Verblitz / ex Brumbies
    • [-,-,R,R,-] Shintaro Ishihara (8 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • [3,3,-,3,R] Koo Jiwon (2 caps Japan) - Honda Heat
    • [R,R,i,_,-] Asaeli Valu (3 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [R,1,1,1,R] Craig Millar (Highlanders 10 caps) - Otago (Mitre 10 Cup) / ex Highlanders
    • [-,-,R,R,3] Hencus Van Wyk (Bulls 2 caps?) - Munakata Sanix Blues / ex Lions & Bulls
      • [-,-,3,-,-] Temp - Takuma Asahara
  • Locks:
    • [-,-,_,_,-] Shinya Makabe (36 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • [4,4,i,_,-] Sam Wykes (Force 87 caps - Panasonic Wild Knights / ex Force
    • [5,-,5,R,_] Grant Hattingh (Bulls 46 caps) - Kubota Spears / ex Bulls & Lions
    • [-,-,_,_,5] Uwe Helu (7 caps Japan) - Yamaha Júbilo
    • [6,-,4,4,4] Kazuki Himeno (3 caps Japan) - Toyota Verblitz
      • Flanker/Lock: Wimpie van der Walt (3 caps japan)
    • [R,R,_,_,-] James Moore - Toshiba Brave Lupus / ex Brisbane City (NRC)
  • Flankers:
    • [7,7,R,7,_] Pieter Lappies Labuschagne (Bulls 22 caps) - Kubota Spears / ex Bulls & Cheetahs
    • [-,-,R,5,R] Wimpie Vanderwalt (3 caps Japan) - NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes
    • [-,-,_,_,-] Shunsuke Nunomaki (5 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [R,8,-,-,7] Edward Quirk (Reds 39 caps) - Canon Eagles / ex Reds
      • Lock/Flanker: Kazuki Himeno (3 caps Japan)
  • Number 8s:
    • [-,6,6,8,6] Michael Leitch (53 caps Japan) - Toshiba Brave Lupus / ex Chiefs
    • [-,R,7,6,R] Yoshitaka Tokunaga (8 caps Japan) - Toshiba Brave Lupus
    • [8,5,8,R,8] Willie Britz (15 caps Lions) - NTT Shining Arcs / ex Cheetahs & Lions
BACKS
  • Scrum Halves:
    • [R,R,_,_,9] Fumiaki Tanaka (64 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [-,-,9,-,-] Keisuke Uchida (22 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [9,9,R,9,R] Yutaka Nagare (9 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
  • Fly Halves:
    • [-,-,_,_,10] Yu Tamura (48 caps Japan) - Canon Eagles
    • [R,10,i,_,-] Hayden Parker (Highlanders 30 caps) - Otago (Mitre 10 Cup) / ex Highlanders
  • Centres:
    • [-,R,10,10,-] Harumichi Tatekawa (54 caps Japan) - Kubota Spears
    • [12,12,R,R,-] Ryoto Nakamura (11 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • [15,-,_,_,_] Jason Emery (Highlanders 35 caps) - Manawatu (Mitre 10 Cup) / ex Highlanders
    • [13,13,i,_,13] Timothy Lafaele (8 caps Japan) - Coca-Coca Red Sparks
    • [R,-,13,-,-] Sione Teaupa (3 caps Japan) - Kubota Spears
    • [-,11,11,13,R] William Tupou (1 cap Japan, dropped) - Coca Cola Red Sparks / ex Force
    • [-,-,_,_,_] Daishi Murata (2 caps Japan, dropped) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • [-,-,12,12,12] Michael Little - Mitsubishi Juko Sagamihara Dynaboars / ex North Harbour (Mitre 10 Cup)
  • Wings:
    • [-,-,_,_,-] Kenki Fukuoka (24 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [-,14,i,_,-] Akihito Yamada (23 caps Japan) - Panasonic Wild Knights
    • [11,-,-,11,11] Hosea Saumaki - Canon Eagles / ex Tonga 7s (Not sure if he can ever become Japanese Qualified or not)
    • [-,-,_,_,_] Gerhard van den Heever (Stormers 26 caps) - Yamaha Júbilo / ex Stormers & Bulls
    • [14,-,14,14,-] Lomano Lemeki (5 caps Japan) - Honda Heat
  • Full Backs:
    • [-,-,15,15,14] Kotaro Matsushima (28 caps Japan) - Suntory Sungoliath
    • [-,R,-,R,15] Ryuji Noguchi (12 caps Japan) - Tokai University
    • [10,15,R,-,R] Robbie Robinson (Chiefs 24 caps) - Ricoh Black Rams / ex Chiefs & Highlanders
 
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Brigantine

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Brigantine

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In 2019, for the 4th season in a row, the Sunwolves have to host some of their 'home' games overseas. [draw]

Presumably it will be the same as 2018, 1 in Singapore, 1 in Hong Kong, 6 at home. Unless Hong Kong qualify for the World Cup, then it might be 2 games in Hong Kong.
 

Brigantine

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And into 2019...

Just catching up to the Chiefs game now. Looking at the line-up for Japanese-qualified players...
Definitely fewer than normal in there, and only 2 in the backs.

Non-Japanese-qualified players in bold. (8, 10 and 14 I'm not sure of, what's the rule? 3 years?)

1. Pauliasi MANU - ex Blues
2. Atsushi SAKATE - Japan
3. Hiroshi YAMASHITA - Japan
4 Luke THOMPSON - Japan (since 2007, ex Canterbury)
5. Uwe HELU - Japan
6. Hendrik TUI - Japan (since 2012, ex Reds)

7. Edward QUIRK - ex Wallaby (Sunwolves since 2016)
8. Rahboni WARREN VOSAYACO - in Japan since 2016, ex Sydney (Sunwolves since 2017)
9. Kaito SHIGENO - Japan
10. Hayden PARKER - ex Highlander (played for Japanese teams every season since 2015, but also Otago/Highlanders)
11. Jamie HENRY - Japan since 2013 (7s)
12. Michael LITTLE (C) - ex North Harbour
13. Shane GATES - ex Southern Kings
14. Gerhard van den HEEVER
- in Japan since 2016, ex Stormers/Munster
15. Jason EMERY - ex Highlanders/Maori All Blacks

16. Nathan VELLA - ex Canterbury
/London Welsh(?)/Auckland
17. Sam PRATTLEY - ex Chiefs/Blues
18. Asaeli Ai VALU - Japan
19. Tom ROWE - ex Otago
20. James MOORE - ex Brisbane City
21. Jamie BOOTH - ex Hurricanes
22. Phil BURLEIGH - Scotland
/ ex Edinburgh/Highlanders
23. Rikiya MATSUDA - Japan
 

Tigs Man

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The main japanese players are with the international squad training etc, same with the coaches.
 

Bruce_ma_goose

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The main japanese players are with the international squad training etc, same with the coaches.
Yes. Is it a full year boot camp, with Sunwolves limited to fringe players? Or will the internationals get some SR exposure later in the year?

Good to see Shigeno back after a year out. He is a good wee scrum half.
 

TRF_Olyy

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RIP in Peace Sunwolves
2017-2019
 

Steve-o

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Link to the article:

https://www.outline.com/https://www...y/news-story/7f01cb777d8e67dc19c064e9719c631e

I agree with this move. That said, the "leadership" of SANZAAR can't organise a **** up in a brewery. The more they rip and patch together the tournament, the more your everyday fan cares less.

Australia wants the Asian market, SA doesn't want that. NZ doesn't seem to have a stance other than they want to compete with SA teams.

Edit: I think next on the chopping block will be the Super W tournament. Australia just can't fund it after this development.
 

Bruce_ma_goose

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Link to the article:

https://www.outline.com/https://www...y/news-story/7f01cb777d8e67dc19c064e9719c631e

I agree with this move. That said, the "leadership" of SANZAAR can't organise a **** up in a brewery. The more they rip and patch together the tournament, the more your everyday fan cares less.

Australia wants the Asian market, SA doesn't want that. NZ doesn't seem to have a stance other than they want to compete with SA teams.

Edit: I think next on the chopping block will be the Super W tournament. Australia just can't fund it after this development.
A good article, which points out most of the key points. I really think this is laughable on pretty much every front. If organisers think fans will come back in droves to a round-robin tournament then they have a different interpretation to me. Japan and the Sunwolves have been disfunctional though and not helped themselves. Depsite that they haven't been awful for the past two seasons, so i don't think they can be eliminated on the grounds of on field performance.

In 20 years time rugby will either be effectively dead in Japan, or a large chunk of SH internationals will be playing there full time, on Japan's terms.

Having got their way here, I wouldn't expect the SARU to be sending any further franchises north to the Pro14 any time soon - it has presumably remained their plan B.

Hopefully we see a Japanese side in Global Rapid Rugby in a years time.
 

Tigs Man

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Hold me.

Awoooooo :(
 

Jabby

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I think it’s suck, sunwolves have been fun to watch and getting the odd result which has to be a big tick to keeping them,

I’m for a more simple Comp but if we bring it just back to the original three contries is fans are just going to get stung for more because sanzar isn’t going to accept less money
 

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Nothing against the Sunwolves and I like having Japan involved BUT:
- The Sunwolves often cap their Japan international players, pulling them from the Wolves for large periods.
- The Sunwolves change their line-up frequently in order to test combinations for their national team (dropping Parker for Matsuda, bringing it that third choice scrumhalf, dropping Little for Nakamura etc).
- Top 14 often keeps players out of the Wolves team and seems to have first rights to the players.

In short the Sunwolves are treated like a practice team for the Japanese national team and this has been done since their inclusion in 2017.
That is not the way to treat super rugby, if they aren't going to take it seriously than they must go, I'm sorry but that's how I feel.
 

Brigantine

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They won't RIP, they'll just follow the Force over to GRR... maybe?

In short the Sunwolves are treated like a practice team for the Japanese national team and this has been done since their inclusion in 2017.
That is not the way to treat super rugby, if they aren't going to take it seriously than they must go, I'm sorry but that's how I feel.
Yeah, but that was just until RWC 2019. If we're talking about removing them for the 2020 season, that point is obsolete.
Also they already changed the Top League to not overlap with SR.

Hosting games in Singapore is also not taking SR seriously, and that was a SAANZAR-imposed condition.
They never saw the Wolves as a normal team either.

When was the last SR season the format *didn't* change? 2015?
 
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