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Jamie Joseph names nine debutants in Japan team to face Uruguay

By Alex McLeod
Jamie Joseph. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Jamie Joseph has named nine debutants in his Brave Blossoms side to take on Uruguay this weekend ahead of Japan’s test series against France next month.

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In what will be Japan’s first test of the year, Joseph has included a raft of newbies and inexperienced figures in his match day squad, many of whom featured for the Emerging Blossoms in a charity match against a Tonga Samurai XV last weekend.

Among those who featured in that exhibition clash include veteran first-five Yu Tamura, who will captain Japan for the first time in his career.

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The 68-test playmaker is joined by 17 players who also played for the Emerging Blossoms in their 31-12 win over the Tonga Samurai XV, eight of whom will be making their test debuts.

Those nine debutants include props Shunsuke Asaoka, Koka Kaishi and Shuhei Takeuchi, wings Koga Nezuka and Koki Takeyama, loose forwards Koji Iino and Sione Lavemai, lock Daichi Akiyama and fullback Taira Main.

Tamura is joined by veteran midfielder Harumichi Tatekawa as by far the most experienced players in the Brave Blossoms side, with a collective total of 123 tests between the pair.

The match will be Tatekawa’s first test for Japan in four years, with the 32-year-old one of numerous players who have earned test recalls for this fixture after years without action for the Brave Blossoms.

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Other notable selections in the starting lineup include 2019 World Cup squad members lock Wimpie van der Walt and midfielder Timothy Lafaele, while halfback Kaito Shigeno has been picked on the bench.

“I’m excited by the match against Uruguay. It’s a great opportunity to develop our depth and give players experience in a test match arena,” Joseph said of his side via a statement.

“We saw some great performances against the Tonga Samurai XV and so we’re happy to give many of these players another opportunity at the highest level.

“It will be a massive challenge and I’m looking forward to seeing these players rise to the occasion.”

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Saturday’s test between Japan and Uruguay at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo will be the fourth meeting between the two nations.

After dispatching Uruguay 24-18 in their first-ever clash in Montevideo 17 years ago, Japan clinched back-to-back wins in their most recent two-test series in 2015.

This weekend’s clash will be followed by another test in Kitakyushu next Saturday before Japan go on to host France in two-test series next month.

Kick-off for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 3pm local time.

Japan team to play Uruguay in Tokyo

1. Shogo Miura (Toyota Verblitz)
2. Kosuke Horikoshi (Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath)
3. Shunsuke Asaoka (Toyota Verblitz)*
4. Wimpie van der Walt (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes Osaka)
5. Yuya Odo (Shizuoka Blue Revs)
6. Koji Iino (Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath)*
7. Hiroki Yamamoto (Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo)
8. Tevita Tatafu (Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath)
9. Takahiro Ogawa (Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo)
10. Yu Tamura (Yokohama Canon Eagles, captain)
11. Koga Nezuka (Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo-Bay)*
12. Timothy Lafaele (Kobelco Kobe Steelers)
13. Shane Gates (NTT Communications Shining Arcs Tokyo-Bay Urayasu)
14. Koki Takeyama (Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights)*
15. Seiya Ozaki (Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath)

Reserves

16. Takeshi Hino (Shizuoka Blue Revs)
17. Kota Kaishi (Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo-Bay)*
18. Shuhei Takeuchi (NTT Communications Shining Arcs Tokyo-Bay Urayasu)*
19. Daichi Akiyama (Toyota Verblitz)*
20. Sione Lavemai (Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo)*
21. Kaito Shigeno (Toyota Verblitz)
22. Harumichi Tatekawa (Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo-Bay)
23. Taira Main (Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo)*

* – denotes new cap

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