SINGAPORE - The Sunwolves are resting regular captain Shota Horie for Saturday's Super Rugby match against the Stormers, but there is no major cause for worry.
Coach Mark Hammett explained that a heavy playing schedule has taken a toll on the 30-year-old hooker, and he decided to rest him after nine consecutive starts for the Japanese team since their first game of the season in February.
Harumichi Tatekawa, a 26-year-old inside-centre, will step up and put on the captain's armband for the Japanese franchise's final match at the National Stadium this season.
Hammett said: "We've a lot of players with a high work load. Not only do we have to manage our players, but we also have to manage our weeks (of play).
"If we have more luxury of players, I'd give players like Shota and Haru (Tatekawa) more time off because they shoulder a lot of leadership off and on field. So it can take a toll on players."
It is also with an eye on the international Test matches next month that the Kiwi tactician has rested Horie for the upcoming game. The Sunwolves will play three more Super Rugby matches before they take a one-month break.
Hammett said: "Certainly through the next three weeks (leading to) the international season, we have to keep considering how we manage the players or rest them for (the next few) games or weeks."
Calling Tatekawa an "exceptional character", Hammett reiterated his confidence in his new skipper.
He said: "Quite simply, he's been one of the best individuals I've worked with. He's a hard worker. 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 can I help the younger guys."
But Tatekawa remained humble, saying: "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. I hope I can also lead the team well."
The Sunwolves will be seeking to avenge their 19-46 loss to the Stormers last month.