Joseph shows Japan's World Cup hand
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Japan coach Jamie Joseph has named a 40-man squad for their year-end tour matches.
Departing Japan on Wednesday, the Brave Blossoms will take on England at Twickenham on Saturday, November 12, and France in Toulouse on Sunday, November 20.
Following an action-packed domestic calendar that saw the Japan XV play Australia A in three non-capped matches in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Osaka, the Brave Blossoms hosted the All Blacks in a sold-out National Stadium in Tokyo this past weekend.
The All Blacks won 38-31 in a thrilling encounter.
The Brave Blossoms now look forward to tackling two of the best teams in Europe.
Comprising 22 forwards and 18 backs, the squad brings together a solid mix of youth and experience, as the Brave Blossoms enter their final 10 months of preparations, ahead of their first match at next year’s World Cup in France.
Captained by 31-cap Atsushi Sakate, the squad includes Japan’s most capped player, the evergreen, 76-cap Michael Leitch.
The forwards bring together solid Test match experience with an average of 14.3 caps per player.
World Cup 2019 veterans, 43-cap Keita Inagaki, 23-cap Kazuki Himeno and 20-cap Wimpie van der Walt are included in a group that also includes 12 players with 10 caps or less.
The backs bring together a playing group with slightly less experience, with an average of 11.8 caps per player.
Kotaro Matsushima, with 45 caps, is the squad’s most capped back.
He is joined by the experienced, 31-cap Ryoto Nakamura, 28-cap Yutaka Nagare and 25-cap Ryohei Yamanaka, while 12 of the 18 backs have 10 test caps or less, including uncapped scrumhalf, Hayata Nakao.
“Following our three matches against Australia A, we identified issues and areas that needed improvement,” National Team Director Yuichiro Fuji said.
“We were then able to challenge the All Blacks in Tokyo, pushing them all the way, right to the final whistle.
“While the result was disappointing, the players fought bravely and showed their skills.
“We are now aiming to reach a higher level in Europe against England and France, growing in strength and building even closer bonds amongst the group as we prepare for next year’s World Cup.”
Forwards: Keita Inagaki, Yusuke Kizu, Craig Millar, Jiwon Gu, Shuhei Takeuchi, Shogo Miura, Atsushi Sakate (captain), Takeshi Hino, Kosuke Horikoshi, Daichi Akiyama, Wimpie van der Walt, , Naohiro Kotaki, Jack Cornelsen, Warner Dearns, Kanji Shimokawa, Pieter Labuschagne, Masato Furukawa, Michael Leitch, Tevita Tatafu, Kazuki Himeno, Faulua Makisi.
Backs: Kaito Shigeno, Naoto Saito, Yutaka Nagare, Hayata Nakao, Takuya Yamasawa, Seungsin Lee, Yusuke Kajimura, Shane Gates, Shogo Nakano, Ryoto Nakamura, Dylan Riley, Gerhard van den Heever, , Koga Nezuka, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryuji Noguchi, Taira Main, Ryohei Yamanaka.
Saturday, November 12: v England, Twickenham – Kick-off: 15.15 (00.15 JST, Sunday, November 13).
Sunday, November 20: v France, Stadium de Toulouse – Kick-off: 14.00 CET (22.00 JST)
🇯🇵🇳🇿 Although they lost to New Zealand in Tokyo on Saturday, Japan gave the All Blacks some of their own medicine.
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) October 31, 2022