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Japan name squad to play Wallabies, Ireland, Portugal and Scotland

By AAP
(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Japan coach Jamie Joseph has named 10 uncapped players in his 37-man squad for internationals against Australia, Ireland, Portugal and Scotland.

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Loose forward Michael Leitch was included in the squad after being relieved of the captaincy last week in an effort to improve his chances of playing in a fourth World Cup in 2023.

The team will be skippered by South African-born flanker Pieter “Lappies” Labuschagne with centre Ryoto Nakamura, who played in all five matches on Japan’s run to the quarter-finals at the last World Cup, as vice-captain.

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Stalwart lock Wimpie Van Der Walt missed out through injury, while there was no place in the squad for 29-cap No 8 Amanaki Mafi.

Uncapped development player Daichi Akiyama was one of three locks named along with Australia-born James Moore and Liaki Moli, although No.8 Kazuki Himeno can also play in the second row.

Brisbane-educated Ben Gunter, another of the uncapped players, and Jack Cornelsen, the son of Wallaby Greg, are among nine players who will battle it out for the three starting loose forward spots.

Along with Moore and uncapped former Australian schoolboys winger Dylan Riley, they will be particularly keen to earn a place in the side when the Brave Blossoms take on the Wallabies in Oita on October 23.

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That test is followed by a match against Ireland in Dublin on November 6, a trip to Lisbon to play Portugal on November 13 and then a first meeting with Scotland since their 2019 World Cup clash at Murrayfield on November 20.

Japan have played two matches since they hosted the World Cup two years ago, losing 28-10 to a British and Irish Lions XV in June and going down 39-31 to Ireland in July.

Forwards: Shunsuke Asaoka, Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Ai Valu, Shinnosuke Kakinaga, Koo Ji-won, Isileli Nakajima, Craig Millar, Atsushi Sakate, Yusuke Niwai, Kosuke Horikoshi, Daichi Akiyama, James Moore, Liaki Moli, Ben Gunter, Jack Cornelsen, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Ryota Hasegawa, Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch, Tevita Tatafu, Kazuki Himeno, Shota Fukui.

Backs: Naoto Saito, Kaito Shigeno, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Rikiya Matsuda, Taichi Takahashi, Jone Naikabula, Shogo Nakano, Siosaia Fifita, Lomano Lemeki, Semisi Masirewa, Ryoto Nakamura, Timothy Lafaele, Dylan Riley, Ryohei Yamanaka.

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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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