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Japan v England - Teams and Prediction

PREVIEW: England come face to face with former boss Eddie Jones when they play his new-look Japan in a Test in sweltering Tokyo on Saturday.

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Temperatures are set to reach 30 degrees Celsius in the Japanese capital for Jones’s first game since returning to the Japan job for a second stint.

The feisty Australian, who took England to the 2019 World Cup Final, has named an inexperienced line-up featuring four new caps, including a university player.

A capacity crowd of about 65,000 is expected at the National Stadium.

England skipper Jamie George, who played under Jones, said they were used to him making “bold statements”.

“Eddie wouldn’t have made that decision if he didn’t have every confidence that he was able to go out there and play the sort of game that he wanted to play,” said George.

“We probably had an idea of the line-up that he might pick, but it’s not exactly what we thought.

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“That’s probably Eddie’s way at times.”

England head coach Steve Borthwick sprang a surprise of his own by naming his team two days ahead of schedule on Tuesday. Notably, he picked Marcus Smith ahead of Fin Smith at flyhalf.

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He also handed a first Test start to loose forward Chandler Cunningham-South in a starting XV that contained four changes from England’s 31-33 loss to France in the Six Nations in March.

England will travel to New Zealand after the game for two Tests against the All Blacks on July 6 in Dunedin and July 13 in Auckland.

Loose forward Sam Underhill said the tour was a chance to build on the work England have done under Borthwick, who took them to the World Cup semifinals last year.

“We’re still a relatively new group nearly two years into Steve’s appointment,” said Underhill.

“It’s a good challenge for us as a group and we’re respecting it as such.”

Higher education

George said there was “an element of the unknown” about Japan’s team, with only three starting players retained from their previous game, against Argentina at the World Cup.

Jones said he wants to “change Japanese rugby” and vowed that his team would “give it a red-hot go” against England.

He also said he was looking forward to locking horns with Borthwick, his former assistant with both Japan and England.

“England’s a high-pressure job, you get more scrutiny than probably any other job in the world,” said Jones.

“I think he’s handled that pretty well.”

Loose forward Michael Leitch, who played under Jones during the Australian’s first stint as Japan head coach from 2012 to 2015, was named captain.

Japan’s new faces include 20-year-old university fullback Yoshitaka Yazaki, who Jones said had “a fantastic future”.

“We brought him into camp and every time he’s trained he’s got better and better,” said Jones.

“Yes he’s young, he lives with 150 other students in a dormitory.

“He’s not a great student at the moment, but he’s a great student of rugby.”

Players to watch

For Japan: University student Yoshitaka Yazaki will have a big spotlight on him. He gets a chance to show what he is made of in that No.15 jersey. Durban-born Dylan Riley gets another shot in the midfield and he will have a tough task on his hands against Henry Slade and Ollie Lawrence. In the pack, loose forwards Faulua Makisi and Tiennan Costley have some speed and power and they will be important at the breakdowns.

For England: Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith gets the nod to take the vacant No.10 shirt, with Owen Farrell ineligible after deciding to continue his club career in France and George Ford injured. Meanwhile, Borthwick has handed a first Test start to loose forward Chandler Cunningham-South in the starting XV and Tom Curry, who has not featured for England since last year’s World Cup after undergoing hip surgery, was named on the bench.

Prediction

@rugby365com: England by 17 points.

Teams

Japan: 15 Yoshitaka Yazaki, 14 Jone Naikabula, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Tomoki Osada, 11 Koga Nezuka, 10 Seungsin Lee, 9 Naoto Saito, 8 Faulua Makisi, 7 Tiennan Costley, 6 Michael Leitch (captain), 5 Warner Dearns, 4 Sanaila Waqa, 3 Shuhei Takeuchi, 2 Mamoru Harada, 1 Takayoshi Mohara.
Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Shogo Miura, 18 Keijiro Tamefusa, 19 Amanaki Saumaki, 20 Kai Yamamoto, 21 Shinobu Fujiwara, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Samisoni Tua.

England: 15 George Furbank, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Chandler Cunningham-South, 5 George Martin, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George (captain), 1 Bevan Rodd.
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Tom Roebuck.

Date: Saturday, June 22
Venue: National Stadium, Tokyo
Kick-off: 14.50 (06.50 BST; 05.50 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be hot with periods of rain and thunderstorms.
Referee: Luc Ramos (France)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

AFP & @rugby365com

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