• Kyodo


Twenty-four days before their first Super Rugby game, the Sunwolves finally got together as a squad Wednesday.

Mark Hammett and his team gathered for two days of medical checks and administrative work before they begin preparations in earnest on Monday in Nagoya.

“Everyone is excited but a little bit nervous,” Hammett said. “Today is nothing more than getting to know each other and for us as coaches to get to know the players.

“Super Rugby is the hardest competition in the world. But in saying that we need to bring our Sunwolves style of rugby and develop it over the coming months.”

Hammett and his team take on the Johannesburg-based Lions on Feb. 27 and have just one warmup game and two weeks of training to prepare.

“There are some players we have not met before,” said flyhalf/center Harumichi Tatekawa. “We need to communicate well to create a strong team.”

Later Wednesday, the Top League All Star XV to play the Sunwolves on Feb. 13 was named.

The squad includes veterans Shotaro Onishi, Takashi Kikutani and Toshiaki Hirose, who will lead the side.

Hirose and his Toshiba Brave Lupus teammate Hiroki Yuhara are the only members of the 30-man squad who were part of the Brave Blossoms team at last year’s Rugby World Cup.

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