Sunwolves’ only two changes to the starting XV from last weekend's tenacious defeat to Crusaders are in the front row, with Shota Horie and Takuma Ashara replacing Jaba Bregvadze and injured Jiwon Koo respectively. It will be the first time that a front row consisting of Craig Millar, who has cemented his place at loosehead prop in recent weeks, Horie and Asahara will be on the field for Sunwolves in Super Rugby. The Japan franchise lost just one scrum in rainy conditions last Saturday, compared to four of seven scrums against Blues the previous weekend. Sunwolves may have it even easier in the scrum this time round against Hurricanes, who currently post the lowest scrum-success of all New Zealand teams (91%), only slightly higher than the Sunwolves (88%).
The second half
Sunwolves have improved significantly at the start of games lately. They were just three points behind Crusaders after 51 minutes, and even led Blues 10-5 in Round 9 in Tokyo. However, they have failed to remain competitive for the whole 80 minutes in any game this term, with their defence often breached in the final 30. Head coach Jamie Joseph has emphasised that his side’s fitness is improving as the Super Rugby season wears on, but could this finally be the game where we see Sunwolves compete for the full duration?
Much of Sunwolves fans’ hope and excitement has been pinned on monstrous winger Hosea Saumaki, who crossed for four tries in his opening three games to mark an emphatic start to his maiden Super Rugby campaign. The 25-year-old was silenced somewhat against Crusaders in Round 10, making just 36 metres over the gainline from his 13 carries, a far cry from the triple-digit figures he was posting across the early stages of the competition.
4. The restart
Two Crusaders' restarts in the second bounced around the 22m line in the space of 10 minutes last Saturday as Sunwolves players looked at one another to wonder why there was no call to take the catch. It is no secret that a diverse range of nationalities are represented in the Sunwolves squad, however communication is evidently an area that demands instant improvement.