Ireland v Japan - teams and prediction
SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER: With eight players in the British and Irish Lions tour squad, it is not exactly Ireland’s frontline selection.
However, Ireland is relishing the opportunity to avenge their 12-19 World Cup pool defeat to Japan at the Shizuoka Stadium in September 2019.
The Ireland coaching team named a strong squad to face Japan in Dublin on Saturday.
However, only five Ireland players – Chris Farrell, Jacob Stockdale, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony and James Ryan – started against Japan in the last encounter between the two sides.
Dave Kilcoyne, Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour also featuring off the bench that day in Shizuoka.
James Ryan will wear the captain’s armband on Saturday and will be partnered in the second row by Ultan Dillane.
Peter O’Mahony starts on the blindside flank and is joined in the back row by Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris, who makes his international return after missing the 2021 Six Nations Championships.
The front row is made up of Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Finlay Bealham.
At halfback Jamison Gibson Park (No.9) will partner Joey Carbery (No.10), who returns to the international scene for the first time since the World Cup in 2019.
Stuart McCloskey and Chris Farrell are paired in midfield – with Jacob Stockdale and Jordan Larmour on the wings and Hugo Keenan is at fullback.
The replacements include Rob Herring, Ed Byrne, John Ryan, Ryan Baird, the uncapped Gavin Coombes, Craig Casey, Billy Burns and Shane Daly.
Last weekend Jamie Joseph’s Brave Blossoms made the British and Irish Lions work hard for their 28-10 victory in Murrayfield.
Having not played a Test since October 2019, the match against Ireland is another welcome return to the field for the Brave Blossoms.
Led by captain Michael Leitch, the team sees Japan’s sole try-scorer against the B&I Lions return to the starting line-up, with Kazuki Himeno controlling the back of the scrum at No.8.
With the Brave Blossoms also looking ahead to World Cup 2023, two former Sunwolves players are set to receive their first test caps for Japan – with Semisi Masirewa starting on the right wing and centre Shane Gates on the reserves bench.
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“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to test ourselves this weekend against a strong Irish team,” Japan coach Jamie Joseph said.
“We’ve had a great week here in Ireland and have prepared well.
“There is no doubt we will be better following the match against the B&I Lions, but our opposition this weekend is also going to be better.
“Ireland at home in Dublin are incredibly tough.
“They’re a proud team and a proud people.
“We beat them the last time we played, so they will be wanting to make amends for that for sure.
“We expect them to come out very hard and very physically.
“Having not played test match rugby in more than a year and a half, I was happy with the team’s performance last week against the B&I Lions.
“We came out of the match with areas we want to focus on and improve this weekend.
“We will be looking to perform at a level where we can create pressure, and through that pressure, have an opportunity to with the match.”
@rugby365com: Ireland by 12 points
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Jamison Gibson Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan (captain), 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Gavin Coombes, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Shane Daly.
Japan: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Siosaia Fifita, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Naoto Saito, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch (captain), 5 James Moore, 4 Wimpie van der Walt, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Atsushi Sakate, １ Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Kosuke Horikoshi, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Jack Cornelsen Panasonic, 20 Tevita Tatafu, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Shane Gates.
Date: Saturday, July 3
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 14.00 (22.00 Japan time; 13.00 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Claire Hodnett (England)