Top League Profiles 2017-18: Kubota Spears
Top League Profiles 2017-18
2017-18 Introduction: In the 2016-17 season, Kubota Spears finished twelfth overall on the final Japan Rugby Top League table on 28 points with six wins, one draw and eight losses.
Head coach Frans Ludeke is in his second season at Kubota and he will be demanding more wins from his charges this year. The overseas players will have a significant role to play in the scheme of things at the Spears, but captain Harumichi Tatekawa and other senior and representative local players such as prop Kengo Kitagawa, halfback Daisuke Inoue and five-eighth Hideyuki Moriwaki will have to stand up and be counted. The South African connection with Ludeke and the likes of flanker Jaco Kriel, playmaker Louis Fouche and centre Lionel Mapoe also needs to combine well to get the Spears across the line in crucial games. Other players of note in the squad include former Japan lock Justin Ives, centres Katoni Otukolo and Lote Tuqiri and Fijian wing Patrick Osborne. There is still a lot of ground to make up on the top teams in the league, but Kubota continue to improve and should provide a number of surprises this season.
The Coach: South African Frans Ludeke is in his second year as head coach at Kubota in the 2017-18 season.
The Captain: Japan and Sunwolves five-eighth Harumichi Tatekawa is the captain at Kubota for the 2017-18 season.
The 2017-18 Squad: (51) the list starts with captain and vice-captains and then continues through forwards and backs in order from props to fullbacks. Family names are last.
Harumichi Tatekawa (c), Hiroaki Sugimoto (v-c). Forwards: Wataru Iwatsume, Taiki Koga, Takayuki Kabuki, Shoya Matsunami, Kengo Kitagawa, Satoshi Saita, Kota Kaishi, Mitsuhisa Goto, Naomichi Tatekawa, Shohei Shikata, Justin Ives, Tatsuro Konno, Yoshiki Niizeki, Kim Ho-Bum, Yuki Aoki, Nick Ross, Ryota Inahashi, Pieter Lappies Labuschagne, Phillip Searle Finau, Jaco Kriel, Shota Hagisawa, Reiichi Tamura, Grant Hattingh, Kazuki Takamori, Takeo Suenaga, Yuki Shishimoto and Yuta Chiba. Backs: Hayato Motegi, Daisuke Inoue, Ippei Okada, Kazuhiro Taniguchi, Hideyuki Moriwaki, Louis Fouche, Ryoma Shirai, Ei Kawamuko, Katoni Otukolo, Lote Tuqiri, Lionel Mapoe, Matt Saunders, Kenta Tanaka, Takuro Takahashi, Sione Teaupa, Liam Dunne, Yuji Ito, Patrick Osborne, Ryo Mochizuki, Hideto Kondo, Kazuhiro Goya and Kenichiro Kuwae. Coach: Frans Ludeke (49).