Rugby: Sunwolves eager to show how much they have improved against Bulls

Sunwolves captain Shota Horie (with hand raised) during the team's captain’'s run at the National Stadium on Friday.
Sunwolves captain Shota Horie (with hand raised) during the team's captain’'s run at the National Stadium on Friday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The Sunwolves are ready to prove on Saturday that they have made improvements since the start of the season.

Ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby clash with South African side Bulls at the National Stadium, Sunwolves' coach Mark Hammett said on Friday: "We've shown progress since the first game.

"After each game we've had lessons and, during training, we work on areas that need to be improved, and we have seen immediate impact on the following game when we play."

The Japanese franchise have lost all three games they have played so far. Last Saturday, Hammett's players suffered their worst defeat, a 9-35 rout by Australia's Rebels in Tokyo. In that match, the Sunwolves did not score a single try, while their opponents scored four.

Besides the Sunwolves, the Kings of South Africa and the Reds of Australia are the other two teams who have yet to win in the league.

Nevertheless, Hammett insisted that they will not dwell in the past, as they search for their maiden win of the season.

Said the 43-year-old Kiwi: "I don't focus on what's behind us. The three losses in the past... I'm not worried about those at all. But it doesn't mean we're not dedicated and motivated to get a win. Week after week, our preparation is towards achieving a win."

The Sunwolves will be without lock Timothy Bond, who has been suspended for a week for a ruck charge offence in their previous game. Fellow Kiwi Liaki Moli will replace him.

Right winger Akihito Yamada, the Japanese star who scored a hat-trick against the Cheetahs in the Sunwolves' previous match at the Sports Hub on March 12, has been swopped to play on the left wing, while Viliami Lolohea of New Zealand will take Yamada's usual spot.

Three-time Super Rugby champions Bulls will be missing lock Grant Hattingh, who has been left in South Africa as he nurses a groin injury which he picked up in their match against the Sharks last Saturday.