Rugby: Japan Sunwolves will have just two weeks of Super Rugby preparation

Mark Hammett (2nd R) shares a light moment with rugby players wearing their new jerseys, Shinnosuke Kakinaga (L), Yuki Yatomo (2nd L) and Edward Quirk (R). Photo / AFP
Mark Hammett (2nd R) shares a light moment with rugby players wearing their new jerseys, Shinnosuke Kakinaga (L), Yuki Yatomo (2nd L) and Edward Quirk (R). Photo / AFP

The under-strength Japanese Sunwolves squad will have just two weeks of preparation before they kick off their inaugural Super Rugby campaign.

Coach Mark Hammett has also highlighted the initial problems the new team will have dealing with the extensive travel in the SANZAR competition.

"Most super teams are a month into training - our boys don't get in until February 2 and the first four days are administration," he told Tony Veitch on Newstalk ZB.

"So we've got two weeks of pre-season then a week leading into the Lions game. There's no doubt we are behind the 8-ball and there might be some harsh lessons on the field.

"In time they have a vision of having the best Japanese players in this team, and then they can challenge. But we know it will take some time."

Hammett said the team would endure 22 flights during the season, 15 of them seven hours or more. Hammett said: "Imagine how challenging that is with a group with pretty limited experience around travel.

"There are thing we take for granted with travel to South Africa - a lot of this group will be going from one of the safest countries in the world to a way more challenging environment.

"Travel will always affect recovery. Super Rugby is 21 years old and New Zealand teams do that spot on so now it's not really a factor.

"They (the Sunwolves) will be 83 days away from Tokyo out of 140. I know having spoken to a few people in Japan that some haven't been particularly good at travelling. If we don't get on to that really quickly it will be a long six months."

Hammett was being positive about the long term prospects and said former All Blacks and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, who coaches Panasonic, was also enthusiastic about the quality of players in Japan.

"I hope everyone will give the new teams a decent chance and decent time to get to that point where they are competitive," Hammett said.

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