Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Time to give up on the Sunwolves

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Sunwolves head coach Mark Hammett. Photo / Getty
Sunwolves head coach Mark Hammett. Photo / Getty

It's already time to completely give up on new Japanese Super Rugby franchise the Sunwolves in 2016.

The latest hoo-ha about the unexpected change to the bonus points system is the least of rugby's worries, after listening to Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett outline preparation Tokyo-style for the team's debut this season. While Sanzar has busied itself copying France's bonus system, Japanese rugby has been busy copying a Spanish siesta.

We all knew the Sunwolves would be in bad shape for their first season, but did anyone realise they would hit late January without taking shape at all.

Put it this way: Super Rugby's Nippon clip-on won't be accused of undue haste or obsessive behaviour. Here we are, a month away from the first game, and according to Hammett the Sunwolves haven't bothered with a training run yet.

No siree. In fact, Koki Yamamoto, Yuki Yatomi, Derek Carpenter, Riaan Viljoen and friends will give it another couple of weeks before they lace up the boots and start working on a few moves. Way to go guys. Keep it chilled.

It's nice to see people not taking sport too seriously. But there will be a downside in this case.

Apart from awarding bonus points for best-dressed, or team with the most sushi restaurants close by, it's hard to work out how the Sunwolves will register any competition points this year with that kind of attitude.

This is what I struggle to understand. Any of it. For goodness sake, even the Sex Pistols had more practice sessions than that.

Hammett - sounding unbelievably calm for a man going into battle armed with what sounds like nothing at all - called for patience. Well he would under the circumstances. What else could you call for? Wild optimism? A sense of excitement? Faint hope?

As the radio interview with Hammett started, you did wonder whether Jeremy "Newsboy" Wells had grown tired of his brilliant Mike Hosking satire and had moved on to mimicking Hammett in order to take the piss out of the Sunwolves. But as the interview unfolded, the frightening thought occurred: this isn't' Jeremy Wells. This is actually Mark Hammett and these are actually the Sunwolves' plans.

Little did we know that the Sunwolves would prove to be an amateur throwback, to when pre-season began when the bloke with the biggest van picked up the team on the way to the first game.

Further to that, the Herald can reveal here that for the first match against the Lions, Shinya Makabe is bringing the oranges, Harumichi Tatekawa will wash the gear, and it's been left to the midfield paring of Yu Tamura and Ryohei Yamanaka to decide who looks after the corner posts although Tamura is the early favourite since he has a van. Tamura's dad will be on the gate. (I'm kidding - they do know who is picking up the posts.)

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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