Sunwolves unbowed by biggest test
Sunwolves face biggest test but they're hardly cowed
They have endured two narrow defeats at the National Stadium, and the Sunwolves face their toughest test of their rookie season in Super Rugby when they take on the Stormers tomorrow at Kallang.
The Stormers are leading the South African group in Super Rugby - the other group is the Australasian - and coming off a 40-22 defeat to Western Force in Tokyo last Saturday, few give the Sunwolves a chance.
But centre Derek Carpenter believes his team will end the season well.
Speaking at Pan Pacific Singapore yesterday, Carpenter said: "We've played them once before and they're a very strong team. It's going to be tough on Saturday, but we'll give it our all.
"Getting as many wins as possible is the goal for us in the long run. If we can come away with three wins (this season), I think that's successful for us and we can build on it the next season."
In a unique agreement between the Sunwolves and the Singapore Rugby Union, the Japanese outfit would play three matches at the Sports Hub from this year to 2020.
The team lost 32-31 to the Cheetahs and 30-27 to the Bulls and play their final game at their adoptive home tomorrow.
Carpenter believes developing a strong bond among the players will be crucial for the team to do well.
"Our main strength is our unity and all the boys have the passion to want to play for one another," the 27-year-old told The New Paper.
"The difference between us and other teams is our physicality. We're constantly trying to adapt to the bigger teams.
"While we focus on other traits like agility and speed, we are also working hard to get bigger and stronger."
Sunwolves hooker Takeshi Kizu believes that their frequent travelling between South Africa, Singapore and Japan is taking its toll on the team.
"There are some effects from travelling so much," said the 27-year-old. "The guys are tired but they should have sufficient rest over the next two days.
"We will try and be in top condition before Saturday's game."
With six games to go, including tomorrow's match, Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett will rest regular captain Shota Horie and start Kizu for the first time.
Harumichi Tatekawa will take over as captain against the Stormers.
Carpenter believes the Sunwolves can surprise tomorrow.
"If we defend like we can, I feel that we'll win. But if we defend poorly, we will lose," said Carpenter. "As cliched as it sounds, defence wins games."
Carpenter feels fans are in for a treat. "I'd say that we're close to reaching our best shape and we're capable of beating the Stormers."
Our main strength is our unity and all the boys have the passion to want to play for one another. - Sunwolves’ centre Derek Carpenter