Eight months ago, Sanzar, the body operating Super Rugby, formally approved franchises for Japan and Argentina to complete a Super 18 for the 2016 season. That paved the way for the new enterprises to start contracting players and staff, but six months away from the new season, the Tokyo-based mob has apparently signed just two players of the 25 or so required. The alarm bells are ringing, and rightly so. Last November, Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters, who recently stepped down from this post, spouted a spin doctor vision of "Super Rugby preparing to expand into a bold and exciting new era" with Japan and Argentina coming on board, along with a return of the Southern Kings in South Africa. "There is no doubt as to Japan and Argentina's readiness and passion for the sport," he said. So far the Japanese side have not announced a playing roster. That was supposed to be finalised at the end of June, but there has been a deafening silence. They don't even have a name Argentina have the goods, the players and are well organised. No questions need be asked about their preparation and they will be a credible force with the crux of the current Pumas squad apparently already contracted. But Japan ... well, that's another story altogether and it has all the makings of being a Super Flop. So far the Japanese side have not announced a playing roster. That was supposed to be finalised at the end of June, but there has been a deafening silence. They don't even have a name. A competition was held to come up with a jazzy go-getting one, but that has not been announced. Let's hope that what they do come up with is a lot better than the wimpy Brave Blossoms for the national team. While money rules for the Sanzar circus with the advertising dollar and TV rights, one has to wonder where the Japanese franchise will get a formidable roster of players from. Obviously, many of the national team players will be on deck, along with foreigners playing in the domestic Top League, with some ring-ins, but superstar names? There are real doubts on that score. After the Rugby World Cup, some of the top players from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa will retire or head off for the riches of Europe. So the pool of top available players will be thin. Six Japan national players - Keita Inagaki, Michael Leitch, Kotaro Matsushima, Fumiaki Tanka, Hendrik Tui and Akihito Yamada - were in action with Super Rugby teams for this season. New Zealand-born Leitch, the Japan national team captain, considered playing for the Japanese franchise next season, but has instead decided to stay with the Chiefs. Tui, the New Zealand-born Japanese test No 8, recently re-signed with the Queensland Reds. Tackled about the lack of a playing roster, Peters said: "Without a doubt it's a serious issue which we need to monitor very closely." He said offers had been presented to several players, but gave no details. Sanzar, now without a chief at the helm, has said nothing further. And there's the exhausting travel schedule the Japanese side will have to endure. While they will be based in Tokyo, three of their home games will be at Singapore's gleaming Sports Hub to cut down on the travel burden because they will be playing in one of the South African conferences. Seventy-five per cent of the season will be on the road. How does this possibly contribute to boosting a new sports franchise when you are hardly ever at home. And when they do trot out on South African surfaces, they will be slotted into an uninviting time slot for the home viewing audience. A key problem may be that the new franchise is owned by the Japan Rugby Football Union - hardly flush with cash - rather than the rich corporations which control clubs for the domestic competition in Japan. And there is the fear crowds will be sparse as the home side faces the prospect of suffering some awful hidings and that won't help Sanzar's or Super Rugby's cause one bit. When the All Blacks beat Japan 54-6 in Tokyo in November 2013, only 20,454 people turned up ... and that's to see the world champions. Last year, the Japan national side were beaten 61-21 by the Maori All Blacks. What sort of crowd is likely to be on hand for the Japan franchise against one of the weaker, less glamorous Super Rugby teams? There is the fear crowds will be sparse as the home side faces the prospect of suffering some awful hidings Last November, when the seal of approval came, Tatsuzo Yabe, chairman of the Japan Rugby Football Union, said: "It is absolutely essential for us to participate in the competition .... and it will certainly bring innovation to not only Japan, but also the Asian region as a whole." It's starting to look like a bridge too far.