Sunwolves coach Jamie Joseph named his side Thursday to take on reigning Super Rugby champions the Crusaders in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Saturday in Round 10 of the competition.
For the Sunwolves (0-7), Lappies Labuschagne leads a side that shows six changes to the XV that started last week’s 24-10 loss to the Blues, three enforced as the result of Shota Horie, Yu Tamura and Kotaro Matsushima suffering the effects of concussion.
“(Lappies) is a really good leader and it’s a good opportunity to give (Yutaka) Nagare a rest,” Joseph said of the change in captain.
Horie’s place at hooker is taken by Jaba Bregvadze, the only change in the pack, which showed significant improvement in the set piece last week.
Bregvadve packs down at hooker between Craig Millar and Koo Ji-won, with James Moore and Grant Hattingh in the engine room and Kazuki Himeno, Yoshitaka Tokunaga and Labuschagne in the back row.
There is a new halfback pairing in Fumiaki Tanaka and Hayden Parker and a new back three in Kenki Fukuoka, Hosea Saumaki and Will Tupou.
“We want to play a certain type of way and Tanaka’s skill set for this particular game works well,” Joseph said. “He has played the Crusaders a number of times and it takes some of the pressure off Nagare.”
As for the return of Fukuoka, who looked good in his comeback from injury last week while playing for Japan A against the Highlanders A, Joseph said “Kenki hasn’t played (for the Sunwolves) for a long time so we want to give him an opportunity.”
Michael Little and Timothy Lafaele, meanwhile, retain their places in the midfield.
Yusuke Niwai, Shintaro Ishihara and Takuma Asahara provide the front-row cover, with Sam Wykes and Ed Quirk the other two reserve forwards.
Nagare, Ryoto Nakamura and Semisi Masirewa are the replacement backs.
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