Joseph names new-looking Sunwolves squad

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Lynn McConnell     05 Dec 2017     Getty Images

Notable inclusions are former Chiefs No.8 and Japan captain Michael Leitch, who made 34 appearances for the Hamilton-based side in recent seasons.

Joseph has also mined his Highlanders connections where he coached the side to the Super Rugby title in 2015.

Prop Craig Millar, who had 10 games spread over three seasons with the Highlanders, first five-eighths Hayden Parker who made 30 appearances for the side before being struck with injury issues and former Southland and Highlanders five-eighths/fullback utility Robbie Robinson, who has 44 Super Rugby appearances behind him, have been included.

Parker had a season with the Panasonic Wild Knights in 2015 while Robinson has been playing for the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan.

South African prop Ruan Smith, who played 53 games for the Brumbies, has also been included.

Joseph has also named 46 Test cap Georgian hooker Jaba Bregvadze. A member of the Georgian World Cup teams in 2011 and 2015, Bregvadze has played four seasons with Toulouse in the Top 14 in France and three seasons with Worcester in the Premiership.

South Africans Grant Hattingh, a tight-loose forward utility who played 55 Super Rugby games, initially for the Lions, but then for three seasons for the Bulls, and wing Gerhard van der Heever, who had 31 games for the Bulls and 26 for the Stormers have also been named. He also played 29 games for Munster between 2013-2016.

New Zealand-born back Lamano Lemeki, who has played rugby in Japan since 2009, has also been included for the first time in the side.

Australia's Sam Wykes, who played for the side last year and Edward Quirk, who has had two seasons with the side, have been been retained. Wykes, a lock who played 87 games for the Force, reached 100 Super Rugby appearances last season. Quirk, a blindside flanker, played 39 times for the Reds and has made 24 appearances for the Japan-based side.

Joseph has set a top five finish as the goal for his side and said it would be 'a much stronger team than we've had in the past two seasons'.

He said they would play 'consistent and attractive rugby…rugby that people want to come and watch and support'.

The full squad which opens its season against the Brumbies on February 24 is: Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Aivalu, Jiwon Koo, Ruan Smith, Craig Millar, Jaba Bradvadze, Shota Horie, Grant Hattingh, Sam Wykes, Kazuki Imeno, Uwe Helu, Edward Quirk, Shunsuke Nunomaki, Wimpie van der Walt, Willem Britz, Michael Leitch, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yu Tamura, Hayden Parker, Harumichi Tatekawa, Timoth Lafaele, Gerhard van den Heever, Kenki Fukuoka, Akihit Yamada, Lamano Lava Lemeki, Robbie Robinson.