NTT Communications Shining Arcs achieve their best ever Top League finish last season after ending the campaign in fifth, and will be aiming to break into the top four championship round this year.
With a strong pack consisting of Sunwolves’ Shokei Kin and Willie Britz, along with Melbourne Rebels’ Amanaki Mafi, forwards coach Naoya Okubo will be keen to address problems in the scrum that saw the side post the lowest scrum success-rate in the Top League last season (88%).
Elton Jantjies, who finished top points’ scorer in Super Rugby this season, will start at no.10, alternating with Sunwolves stand off Jumpei Ogura. Elsewhere in the backs, head coach Dave Penney will be praying that young centre Takuya Ishibashi maintains his fine form last season, that saw him beat the second-most defenders in the Top League in 2016-17.
Ishibashi could be one of many players that Japan head coach Jamie Joseph casts an eagle eye on ahead of the November tests.