Tatekawa ready to step up for Sunwolves
Tatekawa, Wolves' captain for the day, vows to play to his strengths
SUNWOLVES v STORMERS
(Tonight, 7.55pm, National Stadium)
He has led the Hito-Com Sunwolves out onto the pitch in each of the nine times the newly-minted Super Rugby side have gone into battle.
But Shota Horie will be watching from the sidelines tonight when the Sunwolves walk into battle at the National Stadium to face South African side, the DHL Stormers.
The move to bench the Sunwolves' captain is not forced by injury or a disciplinary issue.
Coach Mark Hammett made the move to manage fatigue within his thin squad even as they look to win in Singapore, the third and final time they play here this season.
"We've a lot of players with a high workload. Not only do we have to manage our players, but we also have to manage our weeks (of play)," said Hammett, who has made two other changes to the side who fell 40-22 to Western Force last weekend.
Takeshi Kizu comes in for Horie, while Timothy Bond returns from suspension to replace Hitoshi Ono in the second row.
Kaito Shigeno is replaced in the backline by Atsushi Hiwasa.
"If we have the luxury of more players, I'd give players like Shota and Haru (Tatekawa) more time-off because they shoulder a lot of leadership off and on field, and it can take a toll on players if we don't manage it," added Hammett.
One key man, Haru Tatekawa, will not get a rest tonight.
He is in fact the player entrusted with the leadership of the team in Horie's absence and the centre plans to do things a little differently from his skipper.
"Shota is kind of a guy like 'Mr Perfect', he can perform well, he can lead the team, which is something that I can't always do," said the 26-year-old.
"I will play to my strengths, lead the team in my way. I don't really get the opportunity to be captain and I will use this as an experience."
Hammett has the utmost confidence in his stand-in captain.
"Quite simply, he's been one of the best individuals I've worked with, he's a hard worker," said the New Zealander who was less willing to share his thoughts on just how he plans to dismantle the Stormers, who beat his team 46-19 in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
"What sets him apart for me as a leader is that he's empathetic, he understands how other players are feeling, he's always looking to help the younger guys, to be inclusive."
"The Stormers are a smart team… A good defensive side, but I'm obviously not going to tell you the game plan," added Hammett, breaking into a smile.
His skipper for the game, Tatekawa, was a little more willing to speak on the principles behind the plan.
Hammett's charges have yet to win in two outings in Singapore, but their losses to the Cheetahs (32-31) and the Bulls (30-27) were tight contests, and that has buoyed the confidence of the Sunwolves men.
"When we give the opponents points and let them lead (the game), we struggle. Our defence must not concede points," Tatekawa said.
"This is the Stormers' first time in Singapore and that is an advantage for us. When we get opportunities, we must finish it off."
- Before Haru Tatekawa and his Sunwolves take to the field, Singapore's rugby women will face off against their Hong Kong counterparts for the first time at the National Stadium. The curtain-raiser kicks off at 5.30pm.