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Sunwolves banking on Singapore 'home' advantage

They registered their first win in Singapore in this year's Super Rugby series and the Sunwolves are hoping to continue their good form at their adopted home at the National Stadium next year.

The Japanese side defeated South Africa's Bulls 42-37 in June for their first victory in seven matches over three years in the Republic.

Next year, they will play two "home" matches at the National Stadium, both against South African opposition - the Cell C Sharks in their season opener on Feb 16 and the Emirates Lions on March 23. They play the rest of their home fixtures in Japan.

Said Sunwolves coach Tony Brown at a recent press conference to announce their 29-man squad: "It's obviously great to get our first win this year in Singapore.

" It can be a bit of a home-field advantage for us, just around the conditions and with our style we want to try and play. We want to play fast, and hopefully tire the African sides out."

Brown, a former All Black, is optimistic that his familiarity with the style of the South African teams will come in handy.

Said the 43-year-old: "We're going to be pretty good around knowing what's coming. Now it's just a matter of us being able to prepare as well as we can to be able to adapt to it, and then play our game."

Brown has added Kiwis Rene Ranger and Dan Pryor, as well as Scot Phil Burleigh, to his squad.

He said: "We've got a lot of players back from last year which is the exciting thing, so we can get a real consistency in improving our performance.

"We've added some exciting players like Rene Ranger, Phil Burleigh and Dan Pryor. These guys are seasoned Super Rugby players and add a lot of experience, leadership and X-factor to our squad.

"Hopefully they're going to be great for us this year."

The additions have given him reason to feel optimistic.

Brown is aiming a place in the play-offs for the Sunwolves, who finished bottom of their group last season.

He said: "We've got a lot of hard work to do to get ready, but if we can prepare the way that I want to prepare and get outside ready to play at Super Rugby intensity, hopefully we can win more games and have a real crack at trying to make the play-offs."

Brown took over in September from Jamie Joseph, who gave up his dual role to focus on the Japan national team ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

Brown feels there is already a buzz ahead of next year's rugby extravaganza in Japan from Sept 20 to Nov 2.

He said: "It's going to be hugely exciting for every rugby player that's playing in Japan. Whether they're playing for the Sunwolves or playing for Japan, there's a buzz already around the World Cup and it's an exciting year for Japanese rugby."

Ultimately, he hopes the Sunwolves will continue to get the support of rugby fans here.

He said: "Hopefully, they enjoy the way we play the game and love watching the Sunwolves play, and hope to see our fans out for our first game of Super Rugby in 2019."