16:34 25 February 2016
Rugby: Sunwolves name side for inaugural Super Rugby game
By Rich Freeman
TOKYO, Feb. 25, Kyodo
The Sunwolves take on the Lions on Saturday in their inaugural Super Rugby game with nine Japanese named on Thursday in the starting XV and 16 in the 23-man squad.
With head coach Mark Hammett not due to fly back to Japan until Friday following a family bereavement, assistant coach Filo Tiatia has been running training, though the former All Black stressed the selection of the side was very much a group affair.
"The coaches consulted as a group and the 23 selected are the best fit for this week," he said.
Captain Shota Horie packs down between Keita Inagaki and Shinnosuke Kakinaga in the front row with Timothy Bond and Hitoshi Ono in the second row.
The back row is a multinational affair with New Zealander Liaki Moli and American Andrew Durutalo on the flanks and Australian Ed Quirk at No. 8.
"We have only been in camp for the same number of weeks as other teams have months but the boys have knuckled down and worked really hard," said Kiwi lock Bond, who spent four years at Teikyo University and a season with Suntory Sungoliath.
In the backs, Suntory halfbacks Atsushi Hiwasa and Tusi Pisi line up at halfback with Yu Tamura and Harumichi Tatekawa in the centers.
Akihito Yamada will play on the right wing, despite missing training as the result of a cold, with Yasutaka Sasakura on the left wing and Riaan Viljoen at fullback.
Among the replacements, center Derek Carpenter's fitness will be assessed Friday with Mifiposeti Paea waiting in the wings.
"If you look at the players, we want to play a fast-style game. We're going to use the ball as much as we can," Tiatia said when asked what fans at the sold-out Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground could expect.
There was however, a slight difference in the mood between the players and coaches.
"I feel a strange kind of nervousness," said Horie. "Not my normal feeling before a game. This is the first time I have ever captained a brand new team. I can't just concentrate on my own game. There are many decisions that have to be made. I'm excited but anxious."
Tiatia, however, couldn't contain his excitement.
"I wish I was playing that's how excited I am," he said. "I was involved with the Hurricanes in 1996 (when Super Rugby started) and Mark Hammett was with the Crusaders. So we know what the players are going through."
"We are under no illusion how tough it will be but we are excited by the challenges."