Robbie Deans looking for fourth Japanese title
Robbie Deans is on the verge of winning a fourth Japan Top League rugby title with the Panasonic Wild Knights after his side came away with a tight 17-11 semifinal victory over Toyota Verbitz on Saturday.
“It wasn’t a great game,” Deans told the Kyodo News.
“But it was the outcome we wanted. We came here to qualify for the final and we’ve done that.”
Wild Knights first-five Takuya Yamasawa was integral for the side, having a hand in his sides’ both tries scored by former Wallaby Digby Ioane and Kenki Fukuoka. He kicked two conversions and a penalty with the boot.
The Wild Knights – who won three consecutive titles between 2013-15 – will face current Top League champions Suntory Sungoliath in the final, who crushed powerhouse Yamaha Jubilo 49-7 in their semifinal.
A growing contingent of high-profile Australian players are finding contracts in Japan, both sides will feature a high number of them when they meet on January 13 at Prince Chichibu stadium in Tokyo.
Deans, who coached Australia between 2008 and 2013, has former Wallabies Digby Ioane, David Pocock, Berrick Barnes and Daniel Heenan as well as former Queenslanders Matt Mafi (Reds), Jack Cornelson and Ben Gunter in his Wild Knights squad.
Reds & Australian under 20’s mid-fielder Dylan Riley was also recently rumoured to be trialing for a place in the Wild Knights 2018/19 squad.
Suntory recently shocked the Queensland Reds and ARU with the signing of 20-year old centre Campbell Magnay on a 2-year deal, triggering the ARU to take a tougher stance on young players seeking contracts overseas between Super Rugby seasons.
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