Sunwolves reach for the panic button
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Sunwolves coach Naoya Okubo reached for the panic button after his team’s humiliating 5-64 loss to the Reds last week.
He made a rash of changes to the team to face the Hurricanes in a Super Rugby Round Five clash in Napier on Saturday.
The starting XV shows nine changes from the side that was demolished in Brisbane.
Alex Horan starts at fullback in place of Jordan Jackson-Hope, with Keisuke Moriya at outside centre in place of Johannes Engelbrecht and Shogo Nakano starting at inside centre ahead of Ben Te’o.
There is also a new halfback pairing – Jumpei Ogura at No.10 and Rudy Paige at No.9, in place of Garth April and Naoto Saito.
Tevita Tupou is the blindside flank in place of Kyuo Yoshida and Kotaro Yatabe starts at lock ahead of Corey Thomas.
The revamped front row has Hencus Van Wyk at tighthead prop and Jarred Adams at loosehead prop – Conraad Van Vuuren and Chris Eves axed.
Sunwolves: 15 Alex Horan, 14 Siosaia Fifita, 13 Keisuke Moriya, 12 Shogo Nakano, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jake Schatz (captain), 7 Mitch Jacobson, 6 Tevita Tupou, 5 Michael Stolberg, 4 Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Hencus Van Wyk, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Jarred Adams.
Replacements: 16 Efitusi Maafu, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Conraad Van Vuuren, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Johannes Engelbrecht, 23 Tautalatasi Tasi.
Date: Saturday, February 29
Venue: McLean Park, Napier
Kick-off: 16.45 (12.45 Japan time; 03.45 GMT)
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand) Dan Waenga (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)