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December 5, 2017

Sunwolves Announce Initial 2018 Squad

Sunwolves Announce Initial 2018 Squad

The Sunwolves have named their initial Super Rugby squad and it includes former Chiefs back Robbie Robinson and Bulls wing Gerhard van den Heever.

Also included is former Highlanders fly-half Hayden Parker in a strong looking group as Jamie Joseph's men look to improve on last season.

Among the dozen new faces presented were South African-born flank  Wimpie van der Walt and Jaba Bregvadze, a Georgian hooker who has played top-flight rugby in England and France.

Michael Leitch, Ruan Smith, Shota Horie, Grant Hattingh, Sam Wykes, Ed Quirk and Willem Britz are also in the squad.

Sunwolves’  coach Jamie Joseph said on Monday he was targeting a top-five finish next season, despite the team being on the wrong end of multiple hidings in recent years.

Joseph who also coaches Japan's national team, told reporters that fans could expect a "much stronger team than we've had in the past two seasons", as he unveiled a new squad. 

He also vowed his team would play consistent and attractive rugby ... rugby that people want to come and watch and support." 

Bregvadze would give the team much-needed support in the set-piece, said Joseph, who also highlighted defence as a major area for improvement, as the team leaked 671 points last season.

The Tokyo-based Sunwolves are playing in the five-team Australian conference this season and are replacing the Western Force who were removed out of the competition as the format downsized. 

The Sunwolves ended last season bottom of the South African Group with two wins to their name, with only the Rebels having a worse record.

Sunwolves squad: 

Props: Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Aivalu, Jiwon Koo, Ruan Smith, Craig Millar

Hooker: Jaba Bregvadze, Shota Horie

Lock: Grant Hattingh, Sam Wykes, Kazuki Himeno, Uwe Helu,

Backrow: Edward Quirk, Shunsuke Nunomaki, Wimpie van der Walt, Willem Britz, Michael Leitch.

Scrum-half: Fumiaki Tanaka

Fly-half: Yu Tamura, Hayden Parker

Centre: Harumichi Tatekawa, Timoth Lafaele

Outside backs: Gerhard van den Heever, Kenki Fukuoka, Akihit Yamada, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Robbie Robinson.