New coach of the Japanese Sunwolves Tony Brown named an initial 29-man squad for the 2019 Super Rugby season that includes two Northland Taniwha players.
Brown said the squad, which includes Rene Ranger and Dan Pryor, is "good enough to push for a place in the playoffs'.'
The former All Black, the side's fourth head coach in as many years, has the benefit of a number of returning players "that allows us to improve on last year and get results going forward".
While a number of established Japan internationals were missing from the list, it is expected the squad will grow considerably once the club and players have waded through the convoluted contract process that exists in Japanese rugby.
"We will run two programmes, the Sunwolves and a wider group that will play Super Rugby second XVs," said Japan head coach Jamie Joseph, who has stood down from coaching the Super Rugby team to concentrate on the national side and the larger training group.
New players with Super Rugby experience include Pryor and Ranger.
Around 60 players will eventually be available to the Sunwolves as Brown and Joseph attempt to ensure the best Japanese players are in peak condition by September 2019 when the Rugby World Cup begins in Japan.
Forwards — Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Ai Valu, Koo Ji-won, Hencus van Wyk, Craig Millar, Atsushi Sakate, Jaba Bregvadze, Shota Horie, Grant Hattingh, Kazuki Himeno, Hendrik Tui, James Moore, Tom Rowe, Ed Quirk, Dan Pryor, Michael Leitch, Pieter "Lappies" Labuschagne.
Backs — Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Hayden Parker, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryoto Nakamura, Phil Burleigh, Michael Little, Rene Ranger, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Jason Emery, Gerhard van den Heever.