Britz relishing Super Rugby stint with Sunwolves
Gareth Duncan - MyPlayers.co.za
Cape Town - Loose forward Willie Britz is excited at the prospect of being the second South African to represent the Sunwolves in Super Rugby.
Britz, who previously represented the Lions and Cheetahs, was recently included in Japan’s Super Rugby franchise after impressing for local club the Shining Arcs on their domestic scene.
He joined the Shining Arcs in 2015.
Britz follows former Sharks and Griquas fullback Riaan Viljoen as the second South African to be part of the Sunwolves’ Super Rugby squad.
The 28-year-old is looking forward to the season ahead, which kicks off against this weekend as the Sunwolves face defending Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes in Tokyo on Saturday.
“I feel very privileged to be part of this group. We have an awesome squad of men here, and so much talent, so I’m very excited to take the challenge of Super Rugby with my new brothers,” Britz told MyPlayers.
“We have a talented squad with a good mix between Japanese talent and international flavour. Guys like Fumi Tanaka, Shota Horie, Yuu Takamura, Shokei Kin, Sam Wykes, Will Tupou, Tim Lafaele, Eddie Quirk, Riaan Viljoen, Hayden Cripps and the list goes on. Riaan is the other South African in the squad. So it’s only me and Tjoppie. I don’t think they can handle any more South Africans at the moment!” he quipped.
“The Sunwolves’ biggest strength is the character of the players. They will always fight to the end. The type of rugby we want to play is also the type of game the fans want to see. Good running rugby and great skills and just the enjoyment of the players on the pitch, loving every minute of it!”
The Sunwolves only won one and drew one of their 15 matches last season, but Britz said they will use that experience for a more competitive push this year.
“The Sunwolves did well last season under the circumstances they were put in. The whole team and management staff were put together three weeks before the season started. Then they had to build up a game plan and get to know each other… some of the boys didn’t even know all their team-mates’ names before the first game!” explained Britz. “Other teams have at least four months of pre-season training, and even more of preparation from the managements side, so taking that into perspective I really think they did well to be competitive.
“This season, we face pretty much the same scenario as the management was put together a bit earlier, but the players only gathered 20 days before our first game. However, we are prepared and ready for a great season. We just want to go out there and enjoy every game, while making the fans and families proud, especially when it comes to our exciting brand of rugby.”
Following the Sunwolves’ opening match, they face the Southern Kings in Singapore before heading to South Africa to tackle former team the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein (March 11) and the Bulls in Pretoria (March 17).
Britz is excited to return home.
“I just love travelling back to South Africa. Although I love experiencing new cultures, I miss home,” said Britz. “During the tour, I can see my parents and family, and catch up with my mates. I look forward to a few good braais and maybe a good hunting opportunity.
“In terms of the rugby, we do have hard games early on, but there aren’t any easy games in the competition anymore. Every week is a massive battle, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Meanwhile, Britz has just played a season of Japanese Top League rugby with Springbok and Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
He said the pivot has been in impressive form over the past few months.
“Ella was amazing for us at the Shining Arcs. He even had a few run-outs in the No 12 jersey and he played really well,” said Britz. “I definitely think that South African fans will see him play some amazing footy this season. He should be one of the in-form flyhalves on the Springbok radar.”
Sunwolves 2017 squad:
Forwards: Keita Inagaki, Masataka Mikami, Koki Yamamoto, Takeshi Kizu, Takeshi Hino, Shota Horie, Takuma Asahara, Heiichiro Ito, Koo Jiwon, Hitoshi Ono, Kyosuke Kajikawa, Shinya Makabe, Liaki Moli, Willie Britz, Edward Quirk, Uwe Helu, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Shuhei Matsuhashi, Malgene Ilaua, Yuhimaru Mimura
Backs: Keisuke Uchida, Takahiro Ogawa, Fumiaki Tanaka, Kaito Shigeno, Yuki Yatomi, Harumichi Tatekawa, Hikaru Tamura, Yu Tamura, Hayden Cripps, Teruya Goto, Kenki Fukuoka, Timothy Lafaele, Derek Carpenter, Yasutaka Sasakura, Kotaro Matsushima, Riaan Viljoen
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