Kintetsu endured a troublesome 2016-17 Top League season, avoiding relegation only by virtue of the play-off with a 47-0 win over Kyuden Voltex after finishing 13th in the regular season.
Kintetsu averaged the fewest passes per game in the Top League last term, while they were in possession for less than 14 minutes/game on average – the lowest in the competition. They also recorded the lowest tackle-success rate in the Top League last season (78%).
Head coach Akira Tsuboi has to make improvements in his second season in the role or face the boot next season.
New Zealand Sevens player Iopu Iopu Aso has joined ahead of the new season, while strengthening the backline with the arrivals of former Force player Semisi Masirewa, Phillipines international Daniel Ricky Garcia and Ruan Combrinck from Lions to compensate for the loss of star centre Andre Taylor.