New man's positive strategy

Sunwolves scrum-half Keisuke Uchida getting the ball away during the Super Rugby match against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra earlier this month.
Sunwolves scrum-half Keisuke Uchida getting the ball away during the Super Rugby match against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra earlier this month.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Sunwolves' stand-in coach aiming for third home win with tactics to overcome Bulls

Tony Brown has taken over the reins at the Sunwolves and, ahead of his first match in full charge of the Super Rugby side, the former All Black has a game plan to inspire his charges to a best-ever finish since the Japanese side joined the competition in 2016.

The Sunwolves have never won more than two games in a season and are seeking a breakthrough third when they face the Bulls at the National Stadium tonight.

They have two remaining games after that.

"We're getting better every week, and now we have a competitive side that's capable of beating anyone in this competition. Over these next three games, that's going to be our goal," said Brown.

"With the progress we've made this year, 100 per cent, we've come here to win."

Brown took over from fellow Kiwi Jamie Joseph on Tuesday, with the latter returning to New Zealand to undergo back surgery.

"Unfortunately a back operation's never a good thing, and we wish him all the best in his recovery," said the 43-year-old.

LET IT FLOW

To keep the balance right in our game is really important and, if we can nail that, then we have a chance.

TONY BROWN, Sunwolves' interim coach, who wants a fast game with the ball in play a lot.

"With the coaching team and the leadership group of the Sunwolves, it's just easy to take over. It's business as usual for us."

His strategy will be to not allow the South African side to get set plays going, and Sunwolves fans could be in for a treat.

"We play a certain style, and that's never going to change. Obviously with the South African style, they want to 'set piece' us, and we want to avoid that at all cost," said Brown.

"The ball's going to be in play a lot, it's going to be a fast game. We want to negate set pieces and keep the game unstructured and, to do that, we need to kick a lot, and we also need to counter a lot.

"To keep the balance right in our game is really important and, if we can nail that, then we have a chance."

Bulls coach John Mitchell admitted that injuries have hurt his team, turning them from a side in contention to one at the bottom of the South African conference.

"We're just trying to keep things simple. We got a lot of injuries, and it's all about keeping the squad cohesive now," he said.

Sunwolves captain Willie Britz is hoping to pile more misery on the Bulls, who have lost their last two games. "We definitely want three wins (in these last three games)," said the 29-year-old loose forward.

"We're working hard to create our brand of rugby. We set goals for ourselves in each game and, if we achieve those targets, the results will come."

SUNWOLVES V BULLS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'New man's positive strategy'. Print Edition | Subscribe