The Sunwolves head into their final two games of the 2019 Super Rugby season with yet more new players in their squad as they look to finish a disappointing year on a bright note.
Flankers Ryota Hasegawa and Masakatsu Nishikawa, along with hooker Takuya Kitade, have been named to the 23-man squad for Saturday night’s game with the Stormers at Cape Town’s Newlands Stadium.
Hooker Jaba Bregvadze, tighthead prop Conan O’Donnell and openside flanker Shuhei Matsuhashi have all been promoted from the bench and join Hasegawa in a starting XV that shows five changes from the team that started last week’s 42-19 defeat by the Brumbies in Tokyo.
In the backs, Josh Timu replaces Jason Emery at outside center with Akihito Yamada set to make to his first Super Rugby appearance of the year should he come off the bench, which also includes Nishikawa and Kitade.
“We as a team understand it’s a massive challenge playing the Stormers here in Cape Town and we are obviously excited by this opportunity,” said acting head coach Scott Hansen.
“All South Africa teams play with physicality. The Stormers are no different but they also have great speed and talent throughout their team. Our challenge is to influence that.”
The home side — which still has a chance of making the playoffs via a wild card — is beset by injuries and has included three debutants of its own in wing Edwill van der Merwe and replacement forwards David Meihuizen and Chris Massyn.
Following the game in Cape Town, the Sunwolves head to Argentina to play the Jaguares, who currently sit atop the South African Conference with 41 points.
The Sunwolves are at the bottom of the Australian Conference and combined rankings with 12 points (courtesy of two wins and 12 defeats), 18 points behind the Stormers, who are 6-7-1.