Sport:Manu Samoa veteran keen to prove a point in Japan
Japan's Super Rugby franchise and Samoan first five Tusi Pisi are on a mission to prove to themselves and the critics that they can hack it in their debut campaign.
Tusi Pisi is a natural fit for Japan's first ever Super Rugby franchise.
The 33-year-old has spent the past six years playing in Japan's top domestic competition and twice played against the Brave Blossoms while representing Manu Samoa.
He also has a point to prove in Super Rugby and is relishing the chance to steer his new team, after brief stints with the Crusaders and Hurricanes.
Pisi was heavily involved in their debut match, scoring the Sunwolves first competition points and receiving their first yellow card, in a 26-13 defeat to the Lions in Tokyo last month.
He told Vinnie Wylie that despite the loss it was a special occasion for the team and Japanese rugby.
TUSI PISI: Just talking to the boys, they never thought that they will see the day Super Rugby would be in Tokyo so it was really special for our Japanese boys. For myself obviously it's a great opportunity to get back into Super Rugby and to play for the Sunwolves that have given me so much over here so it was a great occasion.
VINNIE WYLIE: [The start to the season] it has been pretty rushed - a lot of people say you [The Sunwolves] shouldn't even be in the competition. What is the sort of feeling amongst the group - you guys are the ones actually out there doing it, training every day and getting ready for these games?
TP: It hasn't been the best preparation but we're not using that as an excuse why we lost last weekend [against the Lions]. We're just here to work and these players are really excited to be involved in Super Rugby and get opportunity every week to play some of the best players in the world so for us it's just turning up to work and doing what we have to do.
VW: Obviously there's the Japanese element in terms of some Japanese internationals and locals in the squad but there are foreign players as well. You're kind of a hybrid and there's a few like yourself who play your rugby in Japan - you've I think been with Suntory haven't you? I guess that means you sort of understand the area - how's that sort of mix with all the players from around the world?
TP: It's great. Players from overseas have really settled in well and the local boys have really embraced them coming in and the environment so far has been great and everyone just wants to learn and play for each other so that's the main thing.
VW: What is something about Japanese rugby that you've come to learn in your time playing up there that perhaps the average rugby fan in the southern hemisphere wouldn't quite understand or would perhaps be surprised about, you reckon?
TP: Just their resilience: resilient people; resilient players and they work really hard. I don't think people from overseas understand that. That's what I've come to learn from playing here in Japan.
VW: You had that first game at the weekend against the Lions and then all of a sudden you've got a bye already. Is that a good thing, a bad thing, does it give you a chance to take a breath?
TP: Obviously we've only had two weeks to prepare [as a full squad]. This bye has been a bit of a blessing in disguise to get more used to each other and it's kind of the right time for us. We've played our first game and now the boys know what level we have to be at, what intensity trainings have to be at every week to prepare for every game.
VW: You've been at the Crusaders, you were at the Hurricanes in Wellington - are there players like yourself that feel like this season, this team the Sunwolves is a chance for you to prove something maybe to the rugby public - obviously the Sunwolves as a franchise but also some individuals at Super Rugby level?
TP: For us it's just proving to ourselves that and making sure that we prepare to win every week. I think that's going to be [what] the challenge is. We're not really worried about the outside influence or what everyone is talking about - it's about every week preparing to win and knowing the intensity that we have to be at every week to win and that's the most important thing to us is being accountable for our own performances and obviously for each other.
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