Timothy Lafaele will lead the Sunwolves against the Bulls on Saturday as Filo Tiatia’s side return from a bye week to continue their search for their first Super Rugby win of the season.
The starting XV named Thursday shows nine changes from the side that lost 44-31 to the Stormers in Singapore two weeks ago, with Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco and Kotaro Matsushima set to make their Sunwolves debuts at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.
There are also a number of changes to the bench, which includes another potential debutant in Shunsuke Nunomaki.
“The team sees some changes across the field and I am delighted to name Timothy Lafaele as the game captain of the Sunwolves for this Saturday. Tim has grown into his leadership role and is well deserved of his place,” Tiatia said.
“Regular captain Edward Quirk has sustained (an injury) and is unavailable alongside Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, who also joins the medical list due to an injury sustained during training. Willem Britz has returned home for personal reasons and will also miss the clash.”
Seasoned internationals Keita Inagaki, Takeshi Kizu, Yu Tamura, Yuki Yatomi and Matsushima all return to the squad, having spent the last two months recovering from long-standing niggles and injuries as the Sunwolves (0-5) look to avenge a 34-21 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria on March 18.
Yasuo Yamaji is back at tighthead prop and will line up with Koki Yamamoto and Yusuke Niwai in the front row.
Uwe Helu is promoted from the bench and will partner Liaki Moli in the second row, while there is an all new back row in Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Shuhei Matsuhashi and Warren-Vosayaco.
The return of Fumiaki Tanaka will add some much needed experience at scrumhalf, while Hayden Cripps is handed the No. 10 jersey, having started the last game among the replacements.
Lafaele is once again paired with Derek Carpenter in the centers, and with Shota Emi sidelined by an injury, Kenki Fukuoka, Takaaki Nakazuru and Matsuhashi form a new back three.
Kizu, Inagaki and Heiichiro Ito provide the front-row cover with Sam Wykes and Nunomaki the two other reserve forwards, while Yatomi, Tamura and Ryohei Yamanaka are the three replacement backs.
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