Sunwolves unleash new Saffa duo against Brumbies
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: South Africans Pieter Labuschagne and Grant Hattingh will both make their Sunwolves debut against the Brumbies in Tokyo on Saturday.
Both players previously played Super Rugby for South African sides and they will look to add much-needed physicality to the Sunwolves side.
Hattingh previously played for the Lions and Bulls in Super Rugby, while Labuschagne started his Super Rugby career with the Cheetahs before also running out for the Bulls.
"It will be a challenging game for us," said head coach Jamie Joseph.
"I anticipate that they [Brumbies] are going to put a lot of pressure on the set pieces like scrum, and line-out. Plus, they have tough backs that are really hard to stop. We need to stop their momentum from the source.
"Committing penalties gives the opponent a chance, so even in a tough situation, we have to be tough and smart. This is going to be [Ryoto] Nakamura's first game in the Super Rugby. Although he didn't get a chance to play in a test match last November, he has been showing some good performances for Suntory, and he came to the Sunwolves with the confidence and in the best condition.
"[Kazuki] Himeno, also will be making the first cap in the Super Rugby, played well in Toyota. He can cover a lot and keeps on surprising me. I am expecting him to keep on developing in the tough games.
"In some stage of competition everyone's back against the wall, and we have just started. We must keep moving forward."
Sunwolves: 15 Jason Emery, 14 Lomano Lava Lemeki, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Hosea Saumaki, 10 Robbie Robinson, 9 Yutaka Nagare (captain), 8 Willem Britz, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Kazuki Himeno, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Ho Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 James Moore, 20 Edward Quirk, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Sione Teaupa.
Date: Saturday, February 24
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Kick-off: 13.15 (15.15 AEST; 04.15 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)