The Sunwolves head into the final game of their long and arduous Super Rugby season, knowing a cloud still hangs over their heads.
The Japanese franchise have been told by SANZAAR -- the body that runs Southern Hemisphere rugby -- that a number of areas both on and off the field need to be improved if they are to remain in the competition.
Failure to put in measures to make the team more competitive and ensure the management conform to the high standards expected could potentially result in Saturday's game against the Auckland-based Blues being their last.
"Do or die" was the message on the team noticeboard at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground on Friday, when the team held their captain's run. And match-day captain Willie Britz admitted the team had much to play for.
"We've heard some of the rumors, but as players we always give it our all," he told Kyodo News. "We want to prove we are good enough but we are only in our second year while many of the other teams have been in the competition for 20."
A travel schedule that sees the team play three "home" games in Singapore and travel twice as far as any other team, and a horrendous injury list have ensured the team heads into Saturday's game against the Blues with just one win to its name.
"The problem is we have played some flipping good rugby and are certainly better than we were last year," said Britz. "We played really well on the tour of New Zealand and Argentina. But people will still look at the last two games (which resulted in big losses in South Africa). This is a chance to get some pride back."
Britz like most of his teammates will head back to his corporate side next week as the players are once again given little or no rest between Southern and Northern hemisphere seasons.
And the toll taken by that lack of rest -- not to mention 130 hours spent in planes -- has forced Sunwolves coach Filo Tiatia to constantly change his team from week-to-week.
While Tiatia has made just four changes to his starting XV for this week's game, he was forced to make a late change to the bench Friday with Masataka Mikami coming in to replace Keita Inagaki as the reserve loosehead prop.
And the bench will be more important than normal Saturday with the temperatures set to soar.
The temperature pitchside Friday reached 38.5 C and Tiatia admitted he was concerned for the players' welfare.
"It's something that needs looking at moving forward as player welfare is our No. 1 priority," he said. "We will be talking to the referees about water breaks to ensure the players are hydrated, to ensure the players can perform at their optimum best and I've spoken with (Blues coach Tana Umaga) about the heat and the challenges it has."
Umaga's side come into the game knowing their season is over.
The current structure of the competition means that while the Blues could finish with more points than the Brumbies, the winner of the Australia conference, they will miss out on a wild card spot in the playoffs.
"The way I look at it, you've got to be the fourth New Zealand team to have any chance of making the quarterfinals," Umaga said. "That's all I measure ourselves on at this stage and we didn't do that."
But that doesn't mean they are treating the game lightly with All Blacks Charlie Faumuina and Steven Luatua among those playing for the club for the last time.
"We always know it is a privilege to wear the Blues jersey and we are sending off a few stalwarts so there is plenty to play for," said captain James Parsons.