New Zealand

Sunwolves continue to make gains

WELLINGTON - The history of Super Rugby has clearly shown that new teams joining the competition face a long, hard initiation.

The Perth-based Western Force came along in 2006 with high hopes, solid planning and a strong and loyal support base, but won only one game in their debut season.

Even the Jaguares, stuffed with Argentina test players and springing fully-formed from a country with a solid rugby tradition, have found life tough, finishing 13th and 10th in their first two seasons before rising to seventh last year.

Depth of talent isn’t easy to build, it takes time, and though the Sunwolves have access to many players from the Japan national team, they struggled on that score in their first few seasons.

They now seemed to have cracked that with a deep and diverse squad, drawing on a core group of Japan test players supported by tough and experienced professionals from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Pacific islands.

The team is guided by Japan national coaches and ex-New Zealand All Blacks Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown and a number of strong assistants, including Australian Scott Hansen.

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