The Sunwolves face another daunting task when they host the Bulls in their fourth Super Rugby match, in Singapore on Saturday.
The men from Tokyo have found the going tough in their first season in the competition, with their three previous matches all finishing in defeat and they will have to be at their best if they want to beat the three-time champions this weekend.
The Sunwolves have come off second best in the forward exchanges in their previous fixtures – against the Lions, Cheetahs and Rebels – and they can expect another tough challenge in that department from the Bulls, who have gained a reputation over the years for their outstanding forward play.
The Bulls have the third highest scrum success rate (92 percent) in the competition although the Sunwolves haven’t disgraced themselves in that facet of play and are eighth overall with 88 percent.
Where Mark Hammett’s outfit are struggling though are in the line-outs, where they have the lowest success rate in the tournament (75.9 percent) while the Bulls are seventh with 87.8 percent.
But unlike Bulls teams from previous years, this year’s side doesn’t rely on forward dominance alone to win them matches.
Under the guidance of new head coach Nollis Marais, the men from Pretoria have added an element of flair to their game and in players like Warrick Gelant, Jesse Kriel and Bjorn Basson they possess potent game-breakers, who have the potential to wreak havoc in the Sunwolves defence if they find themselves in space with ball in hand.
Losing Springbok pivot Handré Pollard to injury has been a major setback for the Bulls with Tian Schoeman and Francois Brummer alternating in the number ten jersey in matches this year – against the Stormers, Rebels and Sharks.
Schoeman gets his chance to call the shots in this clash and his battle with Sunwolves counterpart Tusi Pisi should be one of the highlights of this clash.
Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa , 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Tomas Leonardi, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Yoshiya Hosoda, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Keith Inagaki
Replacements: 16 Futoshi Mori,17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Shinosuke Kakinaga, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Ed Quirk, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Mifiposeti Paea, 23 Yasutaka Sasakura
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Jan Serfontein
Date: Saturday, March 26
Venue: Singapore National Stadium, Singapore
Kick-off: 18:55 local (10:55 GMT)
Referee: William Houston
Assistant Referees: Shuhei Kubo, Aki Aso
TMO: Takashi Hareda