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Eddie ropes in former Bok lock to help Brave Blossoms

NEWS: Former Springbok Victor Matfield has been confirmed as the Technical Advisor for Eddie Jones’ Brave Blossoms as they start preparations for next month’s test match against England.

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Jones finalised his coaching team and Matfield, the most capped Springbok of all time with 127 caps, is one of the surprises mentioned.

The squad will assemble at their training base in Miyazaki, on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu from June 6, until the end of the domestic summer match series. From Miyazaki, matchday squads will travel to and from the four host cities for their test matches and two non-capped matches.

Among a number of Japanese and international appointees, Eddie Jones reunites with Neal Hatley who joins the team as Coaching Coordinator. Hatley has worked with Jones in various coaching roles throughout the years, the most recent being as Forwards Coach with the Wallabies.

Former test forwards Owen Franks and Matfield have also been brought into the Brave Blossoms coaching set up. Capped 108 times for the All Black, Franks joins as Assistant Coach, and Matfield as the Technical Advisor.

Twelve uncapped players, including two still in university, were named in Eddie Jones’ 35-man Japan training squad to prepare for next month’s test match against England.

The Brave Blossoms will head into camp in southwestern Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture on June 6 before kicking off this year’s Tests against 2023 World Cup semifinalists England at Tokyo’s National Stadium on June 22.

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The match will be Japan’s first under Jones since his reappointment as head coach following the departure of Jamie Joseph after the World Cup.

Brave Lupus Tokyo hooker Mamoru Harada and Saitama Wild Knights scrumhalf Taiki Koyama are among the squad members in contention to make their test debuts after strong performances in the just-finished Japan Rugby League One season.

Forwards Tsubasa Moriyama of Teikyo University and Kenji Sato of Waseda University have also been picked for the training squad by Jones, who has emphasized his vision for a “super-fast” brand of Japanese rugby.

Familiar faces in the squad include former national captain and current Brave Lupus skipper Michael Leitch and Wild Knights flyhalf Rikiya Matsuda, Japan’s first-choice No. 10 at the 2023 World Cup.

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World Cup captain Kazuki Himeno is absent due to injury, while veteran back Kotaro Matsushima has opted out.

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