Gregor Paul: Pull the pin on the Sunwolves

The kind thing to do would be for Sanzar to raise the white flag on behalf of the Sunwolves and pull the pin on the Japanese venture after one outing, writes Gregor Paul
The Sunwolves host the Lions in their first ever Super Rugby match. Photo / Getty
The Sunwolves host the Lions in their first ever Super Rugby match. Photo / Getty

Sunwolves 13
Lions 26

Bravery isn't going to be a problem for the Sunwolves. Nor is pace or character. But matching teams physically is and, as a consequence of that, winning is going to be beyond them.

Every week they are going to empty their tank, give it all they have and bomb around at a hundred miles an hour with inventive running lines, well-timed intrusions at the tackled ball and an appetite to find space.

But every week they are going to be out-gunned in the contact areas. They are going to lack weight in the tackle and their scrum is going to be blitzed and their lineout destroyed.

These are the sad and unavoidable truths facing the Sunwolves. The kind thing to do would be for Sanzar to raise the white flag on behalf of the Sunwolves and pull the pin on the Japanese venture after one outing.

They face an intolerably long season based on what they offered against the Lions in their 26-13 defeat.

It's not going to be fun for the Sunwolves, it's not going to be rewarding and every prediction about their lack of readiness and ability to play at this level looks bang on.

That lack of physicality can't be glossed over or ignored. No one can pretend the Sunwolves can compete without it.

If the glass is viewed as half full, then it was a gutsy start for the Sunwolves and they will have taken plenty from it to become a wiser, better team in their next game.

The more realistic assessment is that the Lions were fairly awful for about 65 minutes, had little accuracy or cohesion, couldn't hit a barn door with their goalkicks, made a million mistakes and still won by 13 points. It won't matter what the Sunwolves learned because when they come up against better sides - and that will be mostly every other team they meet - they will be exposed to things they have never seen or are remotely equipped to deal with.

The Sunwolves' scrum is a particular worry. It was destroyed to the point officials would have had safety concerns - real fears that someone was going to be badly hurt.

And even if they learn on the job and learn to fix things as they go, much of that will be nullified by the toll the season will inevitably take. They are going to suffer injuries and be forced to dig deep into a squad that doesn't appear to have much to offer beyond the 23 who were in action in Tokyo.

Then there is the fatigue element. It's easy enough to dig in and be up for the first game of the season - the first game of the club's history - in front of an eager home crowd.

But what about when they have to travel to Pretoria and Canberra? What about when they have a depleted squad and have to front for back-to-back games in New Zealand?

The better South African teams have struggled with that throughout Super Rugby and, with all due respect to the Sunwolves, they are a long way behind even South Africa's weaker teams.

Sunwolves v Lions - Match centre

- NZ Herald

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