18:15 30 January 2017
Rugby: Top League MVP Nakazuru among 5 added to Sunwolves squad
TOKYO, Jan. 30, Kyodo
The Sunwolves squad for the 2017 Super Rugby season got even bigger Monday with the announcement that the franchise had added a further five players.
Top League MVP Takaaki Nakazuru was joined by fellow wings Shota Emi and Ataata Moeakiola, with flanker Shokei Kin and flyhalf Jumpei Ogura also getting called up, meaning the squad now numbers 50.
Nakazuru and Emi both played a big role in Suntory Sungoliath winning the 2016-2017 league and cup double, with the former touching down 17 times in the regular season.
Tokai University student Moeakiola scored three tries for Japan against South Africa in last year's under-20 world championship having won three caps for the Brave Blossoms during the Asia Rugby Championship.
Kin also made his debut in last year's ARC and has won six caps for Japan. He was a late call-up to the Sunwolves last season and has two Super Rugby cap to his name.
His NTT Communications Shining Arcs teammate Ogura was included in the Japan squad for last November's internationals but has yet to play a test match.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph, who oversees the Sunwolves, said the larger than normal squad would enable him to "develop and blood some younger players with experienced players who have played at a higher level."
With the Sunwolves set to travel close on 120,000 kilometers, and a number of players having played continuously for the past two or three years, player welfare was paramount, Joseph said.
As such a number of players will miss the long tours to South Africa and New Zealand and will remain in Japan, where they will train under Joseph with members of the Junior Japan squad.