Sunwolves head to Invercargill
NEWS: Japan's Sunwolves will have the 'pleasure' of heading deep into the South Island of New Zealand for their encounter with the Highlanders next year.
The Highlanders confirmed the venues for their 2017 Super Rugby Season home games.
The Sunwolves will play the Highlanders for the first time ever, deep in Highlander country, at Rugby Park on Saturday, April 22.
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said they are "delighted" to have the Japanese franchise in Super Rugby's most southern city.
"Invercargill has a strong Japanese connection with the longstanding relationship with sister city Kumagaya [Japan]," Shadbolt said.
"We know we will get a fantastic crowd along to both support the Highlanders and welcome the Sunwolves - it's going to be a great game.Shadbolt."
Highlanders CEO, Roger Clark, added: "It is important for us as a franchise to recognise the great support we get from Southland, especially Invercargill, and with help from the Invercargill City Council, we are able to consistently bring great Super Rugby games to them.
"We can't wait to play the Sunwolves at Rugby Park Stadium next year and the early kick-off time should make it easier for those travelling from a little further."
Invercargill won't be a new venue for some of the Sunwolves, with two members of their management team having grown up in Invercargill.
Local boys Simon Jones, strength and conditioning coach (previously worked with the Southland Stags and Southern Steel) and Ben Herring, a member of the Sunwolves coaching team (played for both the Southland Stags and Highlanders), will be looking forward to visiting New Zealand with the Sunwolves.
Former Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is also expected to travel with the team when they return to New Zealand in 2017.
The remaining six home games against the Chiefs, Crusaders, Rebels, Blues, Stormers, Waratahs and Reds will be played at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.