Top League Profiles 2017-18: Coca-Cola Red Sparks
Top League Profiles 2017-18
Coca-Cola Red Sparks
2017-18 Introduction: In the 2016-17 season, Coca-Cola Red Sparks finished fourteenth overall on the final Japan Rugby Top League table on 17 points with 3 wins and 12 losses. Consequently, the Red Sparks were forced to play through the promotion and relegation play-offs where they beat Hino Motors 22-17 to retain their place in Top League.
Coca-Cola may have kept their place in Top League but the challenges are going to be many if they are to be a competitive outfit and avoid the relegation zone at the end of the season. Former Samoan international Earl Va’a is the new head coach and he will have to get the best out of his squad led by flanker Kota Yamashita. It also goes without saying that the overseas players in the ranks are going to play a vital role with the likes of lock Mark Abbott, flanker Solomon King, and Japan international centres Tim Lafaele and William Tupou expected to lead from the front. Hooker Ryuhei Arita, and back-rowers Yusaku Kuwazuru and Masakazu Toyota have also represented Japan in the past and their experience and on-field leadership will be crucial for the success of Coca-Cola this season.
The Coach: Former Samoan international Earl Va’a is the new head coach at Coca-Cola for the 2017-18 season.
The Captain: Back-rower Kota Yamashita is the captain at Coca-Cola for the 2017-18 season, continuing from the previous season. Hooker Ryohei Arita is the vice-captain, also continuing from the previous season.
The 2017-18 Squad: (47) the list starts with captain and vice-captains and continues through forwards and backs in order from props to fullbacks. All Japanese family names come last.
Kota Yamashita (c), Ryuhei Arita (v-c). Forwards: Daisuke Yamashita, Elone Takitaki, Masatoshi Kayashima, Genki Tokushige, Yasuo Saruwatari, Tomohiro Tanaka, Masahiro Hibino, Yuichiro Hosono, Mitsumasa Harayama, Atsuro Nakamura, Shuhei Kawashita, Shuichi Kinoshita, Shun Sekiya, Naoto Osajima, Taiji Machino, Kosetsu Kawachi, Mark Abbott, Solomon King, Yusaku Kuwazuru, Masakazu Toyota, Masahiro Arita, Hideaki Suzuki and Joseph Tupe. Backs: Takeshi Katsuki, Shota Egashira, Masafumi Tanabe, Hisatoshi Yamada, Arata Nanri, Tim Lafaele, Yuki Yamasaki, Daniel Hollinshead, Naoki Sarugaku, William Tupou, Junshi Yamakita, Yoji Yamamoto, Kohei Ishigaki, Kameli Raravou Latianara Soejima, Masahiro Tsuiki, Taiki Koyanagi, Masakazu Yatsumonji, Yoshitsumi Shimora, Daniel Peters, Go Watanabe, Taichi Yoshizawa and Kentaro Kamata. Coach: Earl Va’a (45).