• Kyodo


The Sunwolves will be looking to break their Australian hoodoo Saturday when they take on the Waratahs at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

Japan’s Super Rugby franchise has beaten teams from Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand — albeit just one time each — but they have yet to taste success against a side from Australia.

The Sunwolves (0-5 this season) have gone 0-7 against their Australian rivals, yielding an average of 43 points per game. They have been outscored 30 tries to nine in Tokyo, losing their only previous game to the Waratahs 57-12 back in 2016.

“The Waratahs are a very good side, play good expansive rugby and are full of international quality players,” Sunwolves defense coach Scott Hansen said Friday before his team’s captain’s run at the match venue.

Hansen has overseen a marked improvement in the Sunwolves’ tackle success rate with the team currently ranked fifth with an 84 percent completion rate. But they have still conceded a tournament-high 33 tries in losing their first five games.

“If we get turned over we need to put in more effort in getting set and communicating and make sure we are all on the same page,” Hansen said of the team’s transition from attack to defense.

“We have put in a lot of learning this week and hope to see a big improvement (on Saturday).”

And they will need to be at their best against a side that has won three, lost one and drawn one to start the season.

In the last two weeks, the Waratahs have beaten local rivals the Rebels 51-27 and the Brumbies 24-17, teams that downed the Sunwolves in the opening two weeks of the competition.

“We are in good shape and traveled well,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said Friday, a day after the team arrived in Japan from Sydney.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.