Sunwolves have made four changes to the team to face Waratahs in Super Rugby Round 2 this weekend from the side that were defeated 45-10 last weekend in Singapore.
Assistant coach Scott Hansen will continue to take charge of the side, with Tony Brown occupied with the Rugby World Cup Training Squad together with Jamie Joseph. Hansen will be looking for a response from his team after a disappointing performance in their season opener last weekend.
“It’s giving people the opportunity to play and building our game and roster. This week this is the best group that is playing,” said Hansen, whose side conceded 16 penalties against Sharks, more than double the tally of their opponents
Hiroshi Yamashita makes his first Super Rugby start for Sunwolves, coming in at tighthead prop to replace Asaeli Ai Valu, who in turns drops to the replacements bench.
“The opportunity is there this week for him (Yamashita) to give us that solid foundation,” Hansen remarked, after Sunwolves struggled against Sharks in the scrum and line-out.
Tom Rowe, meanwhile, makes his Sunwolves debut in the second row, in place of James Moore. Prop Pauliasi Manu is also in line to make his Sunwolves debut off the bench.
Hansen makes no alterations to the back row, with Hendrik Tui, Ed Quirk and Rahboni Warren Vosayaco all keeping their places for the match at Chichibunomiya, after the trio did not miss a single tackle in the opener against Sharks.
In the backs, both Kaito Shigeno and Hayden Parker retain their places at half-back as Hansen looks to build familiarity within the team following an evident lack of team cohesion in Round one in Singapore.
Suntory’s Ryoto Nakamura starts at centre in place of Phil Burleigh, while Jason Emery comes in for the injured Rene Ranger, meaning Gerhard van den Heever, who started at full-back against Sharks, switches to the right wing with Emery deployed at full-back.
Having conceded 50 points or more in each of their three encounters against Waratahs to date, Sunwolves will be hoping to build on a promising defensive display in their opening game, despite conceding 45 points to the Sharks.