Mark Hammett named coach of Japan's Super 15 team
By Paul Vinnell
Last Updated: 21/12/15 8:01am
Former New Zealand hooker Mark Hammett has been unveiled as the head coach of Japan's new Super Rugby side, the Sunwolves.
The Tokyo-based franchise will play in a blood orange kit with a reserve strip of grey.
They face South Africa's Golden Lions at home in their first match on February 27.
Hammett, who made 29 appearances for New Zealand from 1999 to 2003, coached the Wellington Hurricanes from 2011-14 in his first spell as a Super Rugby head coach.
The 43-year-old faces a major challenge to prepare the side for their opening match in Tokyo following a long delay in naming their coaching and playing staff.
The Sunwolves will join an expanded 18-team competition next year along with the Southern Kings of South Africa and Argentina's first franchise, the Jaguars, who will be based in Buenos Aires.
Hammett's playing staff includes 15 with Test experience and 10 of the Brave Blossoms squad which took the recent World Cup by storm.
Former Auckland Blues lock Liaki Moli and ex-Hurricanes fly-half Tusi Pisi will also line up for the Japanese side, along with Argentina flanker Tomas Leonardi, South African full-back Riaan Viljoen and Australia U20 flanker Eddie Quirk.
The Brave Blossoms put Japanese rugby on the map by winning three World Cup pool games, including a stunning 34-32 victory over South Africa in their opening game, the biggest upset in the tournament's history.
But Super Rugby organisers have admitted to concerns over how the Sunwolves will fare after they took so long to announce key appointments.
Another former All Black, Otago Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph, is expected to be named as Japan's new head coach later this week following the departure of Eddie Jones, who recently took over the England top job.