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Host nation Japan name their World Cup squad

Japan celebrate their upset win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Jamie Joseph has wrapped up a 41-man training camp at Abashiri city in Hokkaido by confirming the 31-strong squad that will represent host nation Japan at next month’s World Cup.

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Fresh from winning the Pacific Nations Cup with wins over Fiji, Tonga and USA, ninth-ranked Japan will be hopeful of at least repeating their heroics from the 2015 World Cup where one of their pool wins came when they shocked eventual semi-finalists South Africa 34-32 in Brighton. 

Joseph’s squad for the finals where Japan will take on Ireland, Samoa and Scotland after opening the tournament on September 20 against Russia has Luke Thompson poised to become the sixth oldest player to have ever competed at a World Cup. 

Having made a debut in the 2007 tournament held in France, Thompson will be 38 years and 157 days old by the time of the opener versus the Russians. While the Japanese will ooze experience in the likes of Thompson and skipper Michael Leitch, Joseph has included one uncapped player in his squad, rookie hooker Takuya Kitade.

That curiosity aside, the Japan coach believes his squad is primed to create history following an encouraging build-up to the finals. “The team has set a goal of making the top eight for the first time in the history of Japanese rugby,” Joseph said. “The staff and players will give 150 per cent – whether that’s enough only time will tell.

“Our game is based around speed, skill and structure, but the key difference this year is we are fit enough now to play that game. We’re training at a level of intensity that’s 25 per cent higher than our matches – I think that’s our key weapon.”

Japan RWC 2019 squad

Forwards: Keita Inagaki, Yusuke Kizu, Koo Ji-won, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Takuya Kitade, Atsushi Sakata, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson, Wimpie van der Walt, Uwe Helu, James Moore, Hendrik Tui, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Michael Leitch (captain), Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno, Amanaki Mafi;

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Backs: Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka, Ataata Moeakiola, Lomano Lemeki, William Tupou, Ryoto Nakamura, Timothy Lafaele, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryohei Yamanaka.

WATCH: Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip talk about the upcoming World Cup, Ireland’s recent loss and the tournament being held for the first time in Asia

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Tim 1 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

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