Rugby: Sunwolves hungry for first Super Rugby win

Sunwolves prop Keita Inagaki (centre, in red) during Saturday's 9-35 Super Rugby loss to Australia's Rebels in Tokyo. The Sunwolves, who have lost all their three games so far in what is proving to be a trying debut season, are back at the Singapore
Sunwolves prop Keita Inagaki (centre, in red) during Saturday's 9-35 Super Rugby loss to Australia's Rebels in Tokyo. The Sunwolves, who have lost all their three games so far in what is proving to be a trying debut season, are back at the Singapore Sports Hub to play the Bulls this Saturday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

They may have lost all three of their Super Rugby matches so far, but the Sunwolves remain upbeat as they return to Singapore this week for the second of their three matches at the Sports Hub this season.

But while the Super Rugby debutants were prepared for a rough start to their inaugural season, they are nonetheless hoping to get their maiden victory in the 18-team league as quickly as possible by fine-tuning their tactics.

Said their assistant coach Filo Tiatia: "The competition brings a new format for the players, and they had limited (time for) preparation. So they are still finding their feet."

Similarly, the Sunwolves' Australian flanker Ed Quirk has dismissed concerns that the team might be struggling with low morale.

The 24-year-old said: "There's no worry for us. We're building throughout the season.

"We've put those defeats to bed, and we're on to this week and looking forward to coming to Singapore, which is after all, our home ground too.

"We want to keep improving as a side. You'll see in the coming weeks. If we get better, then the win will come."

Super Rugby's first Asian franchise began their season with a 13-26 loss to the Lions in Tokyo.

In their first match at the Sports Hub 10 days ago, they led the Cheetahs by as many as 18 points but succumbed to an agonising 31-32 defeat.

In their third game last Saturday in Tokyo, they were well beaten by the Rebels, losing 9-35.

Victory will again be a tall task on Saturday, as the Sunwolves face three-time Super Rugby champions (2007, 2009, 2010) Bulls at Kallang.

Said Tiatia: "They are a physical team. We have to get our attack and defence structures in place, and maintain pressure on the opponents. We did some of that against the Rebels last week, but we couldn't finish things off.

"We've got to find an efficient way to stop them. Set pieces, line-outs and scrums, we have to be more efficient in that."

The 44-year-old former All Black believes the Sunwolves can eventually punch above their weight in their debut season, playing against teams who are have years of experience ahead of them.

He said: "We've got expectations from society, (with people) saying that because we are a young team with little Super Rugby experience, that we should be losing these games. We're definitely trying to change that mentality."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'Sunwolves hungry for first Super Rugby win'. Print Edition | Subscribe