Rugby: Fearless Sunwolves prepare for battle against the Cheetahs

Andrew Durutalo (left) of the Sunwolves is tackled by Jaco Kriel of the Lions during their Super Rugby opener in Tokyo on Feb 27, 2016.
Andrew Durutalo (left) of the Sunwolves is tackled by Jaco Kriel of the Lions during their Super Rugby opener in Tokyo on Feb 27, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

Despite losing their first-ever Super Rugby game, Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett believes his team have nothing to be afraid of going into Saturday's match against the Cheetahs at the National Stadium.

The newly formed Japanese franchise had lost their opening game in Tokyo against the Lions 13-26, but had additional preparation going into their second home game because of a bye in the second round. They will play three of their home matches in Singapore, with the other five back in Tokyo.

At a media conference on Thursday, Hammett said: "(Spirits) are pretty positive. Obviously we've had a bye, which was good, we had a short pre-season. (The team) had a busy week training, but it gave us 25 per cent more time than what we had, so hopefully we'll be a little more organised."

"It's probably hard to (identify) the strengths and weaknesses on one game with a new group...we've worked hard over the last two weeks to try and remedy that."

The Sunwolves had little time preparing for the season, having had problems recruiting players and even the coach, who only joined the team in December.

Yet, even with the Cheetahs coming off losses in the first two rounds of matches, Sunwolves' flanker Ed Quirk remains wary of the South African outfit.

The 24-year-old Australian, who used to play for the Queensland Reds, said: "I've played the Cheetahs many times over the last few years in Super Rugby, (they play a) very different style to what other African sides play.

"We've got our own strategy leading (into the game), not focusing on them too much, we want to get our preparation right so we're here to compete."

Indeed, with the Sunwolves showing they are more than whipping boys against the Lions, Hammett said: "I think we'd be silly to make predictions, we know we're going into this game as underdogs (but) we're not afraid of their team either."

clntan@sph.com.sg