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March 28, 2017 15:14

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16:49 3 March 2017

Rugby: Sunwolves' Wykes backing solid form to extend his time in Japan

By Rich Freeman
SINGAPORE, March 3, Kyodo

Sam Wykes is the Sunwolves most experienced Super Rugby player with 88 caps to his name -- 87 with the Western Force and one with the Japanese side.

But the 28-year-old Australia-born lock is unsure of his rugby future after he was released by Coca-Cola Red Sparks at the end of the recently completed Top League season after two go-rounds with the Fukuoka-based team.

"I would have loved to have stayed (with Cola) but the nature of the business is what it is," Wykes told Kyodo News on Friday after the Sunwolves' captain's run at Singapore National Stadium.

"I love Japan and do want to stay. My time there has taught me a lot as a person and as a rugby player."

Wykes said his family had particularly enjoyed their time in Kyushu, with his youngest son born in Fukuoka.

"They have really embraced Japanese culture and we have had some real quality family time."

Wykes' ability to make his teammates laugh and enjoy training has been key in teaching some of the young Sunwolves that while Super Rugby is intense, there is also much to be enjoyed about traveling the world playing rugby.

And he is keen to carry on with the franchise who take on South Africa's Kings on Saturday.

"Playing with guys like Willie Britz has been awesome," he said, referring to the South African No. 8, who like Wykes has been something of a mentor to some of the young Japanese players.

Wykes becomes eligible to play for Japan next year and he said he was hopeful he could pick up a contract with a Top League side.

"I am not bitter about what happened at Cola. They are some really good people there. I would love to stay in Japan and carry on playing for the Sunwolves. Everything happens for a reason. It's all part of the journey."

==Kyodo

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