4 SA-born players in Sunwolves squad
Cape Town - Sunwolves coach Tony Brown has named an initial squad for next season's Super Rugby competition.
There are four South Africans in the 29-man squad - utility forward Grant Hatting, flank Lappies Labuschagne, prop Hencus van Wyk and wing Gerhard van den Heever.
With fewer than 30 players named, it is expected that more of the Japan Test players who are currently out of action will be added once contracts have been worked through.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph, who stood down from the Sunwolves role in order to prepare for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, told the Kyodo News website: "We will run two programmes, the Sunwolves and a wider group that will play Super Rugby second XVs. Japan cannot prepare properly for the World Cup without the Sunwolves."
As such, around 60 players will eventually be available to the Sunwolves as Brown and Joseph attempt to ensure the best Japanese players are in peak condition by September 2019 when the Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan.
Brown added that the felt the squad would be "good enough to push for a place in the playoffs."
"We want to play Japanese rugby, which is an expansive style with a lot of skill and speed, and which is based around unstructured rugby," said Brown, whose brother Cory joins the side as an attack coach alongside new scrum coach Marty Veale.
"The players we have added are the right players to play our style of rugby and will add to our game, experience and leadership group."
Brown said they would have two training camps, one in Japan and the other in Australia with one warm-up game before their first Super Rugby game against the Sharks, in Singapore, on February 16.
Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Ai Valu, Koo Ji Won, Hencus van Wyk, Craig Millar, Atsushi Sakate, Jaba Bregvadze, Shota Horie, Grant Hattingh, Kazuki Himeno, Hendrik Tui, James Moore, Tom Rowe, Ed Quirk, Dan Pryor, Michael Leitch, Pieter "Lappies" Labuschagne
Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Hayden Parker, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryoto Nakamura, Phil Burleigh, Michael Little, Rene Ranger, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Jason Emery, Gerhard van den Heever