Sunwolves coach Jamie Joseph once again named a much changed side Thursday as his team, looking forits first win of the Super Rugby season, head into Saturday’s home game against the New South Wales Waratahs.
Coming off a bye week that allowed his players, who have lost their first five games, to rest and take stock following a big defeat to New Zealand’s Chiefs, Joseph has picked a starting XV that contains just six players who started two weeks ago.
“You look at the last game, there were problems all over the place,” Joseph said of the 61-10 thumping. “We suffered from players coming in that weren’t used to the intensity and we were up against a very good side.
“We have worked on things that we can work on and had a good week of preparation and I think we will be a lot better.”
Yutaka Nagare is promoted from the bench and leads the side from scrumhalf where he will be partnered with Yu Tamura at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.
Like the flyhalf, Michael Little and Timothy Lafaele retain their places in the centers as does right wing Semisi Masirewa.
Lomano Lava Lemeki — a late call-up to the bench last time out — starts on the left wing, while Kotaro Matsushima, whose late withdrawal against the Chiefs allowed Masirewa to start, returns at fullback.
The only two forwards to remain are Shota Horie, who keeps his place at hooker despite ongoing struggles with his throwing in, and Kazuki Himeno, who moves from lock to No. 8.
Horie packs down between Craig Millar and Koo Ji-won with James Moore and Sam Wykes forming a new second row.
Himeno is joined in the back row by Yoshitaka Tokunaga and Lappies Labuschagne, with Michael Leitch out for three to four weeks with a broken rib.
“We’ve got line-outs now,” Joseph said of the inclusion of Wykes and Moore, who stand 197 and 195 cm, respectively.
There are two Georgian internationals on the bench with Nikoloz Khatiashvili, who joined the team earlier this week, joining Jaba Bregvadze and Keita Inagaki as the front-row replacements.
Wimpie van der Walt and Ed Quirk are the two other reserve forwards.
Hayden Parker, who will join Kobe Kobelco Steelers for the 2018-19 Top League season, Fumiaki Tanaka and powerhouse wing Hosea Saumaki, one of the few Sunwolves to shine this season, are the replacement backs.
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