26 Nov 2015

Sunwolves will play next year

7:17 am on 26 November 2015

Japan's Sunwolves will definitely compete in Super Rugby next season and are expected to appoint a coach in the next couple of weeks, SANZAR's newly-appointed chief executive Andy Marinos has said.

The new Japanese rugby team to play in the 2016 Super Rugby competition will be known as the Sunwolves.

The new Japanese rugby team to play in the 2016 Super Rugby competition will be known as the Sunwolves. Photo: SANZAR

Sunwolves are one of three new teams that will take Super Rugby to 18 sides for next season, along with an as yet unnamed Argentine outfit and South Africa's Kings.

Just over three months before their maiden fixture, however, the Sunwolves do not yet have a head coach or any publicly disclosed players.

Marinos, who takes up his post in January, said he was "100 percent confident" the Sunwolves would be ready to take part in the competition.

"They have contracted a core group of around 24 to 25 Japanese players," Marinos told reporters via teleconference on Wednesday.

"We expect they will finalise their coach in the next week or two.

"And there are obviously a few players who are waiting to understand who that coach is before they commit. We expect to see a lot more traction in the next week or two."

Sunwolves, who will play some of their games in Singapore, are scheduled to make their debut against South Africa's Lions in Tokyo on February 27th.

New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew said earlier this month that SANZAR stakeholders remained "pretty nervous" about Japan's readiness for Super Rugby.

Despite the Argentinian side not yet being branded, there are few concerns about their competitiveness given the Pumas squad that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup will provide the core of the team.

Marinos said the history of Super Rugby illustrated that even if the Sunwolves do struggle at first as they adapt to the standard of play and the travel, it would be wrong to write them off.

"What we have seen over the last 20 years is that surprise teams come up and what would be considered strong teams, for whatever reasons, don't really hit the highs that you want," he said.

"But overall, the standard has been of an acceptable level ... I have no doubt that anyone of those teams that don't start the season off well will have a huge upset at some stage."


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