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Rusty Japan plan warm-up before taking on the Lions in June

By PA

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Japan plan to play a warm-up match before facing the British and Irish Lions in June in an attempt to shake off the rust caused by an extended spell of inactivity. The Brave Blossoms’ last outing took place 20 months ago at the 2019 World Cup when they blazed a trail to the quarter-finals at the tournament they hosted only to fall to South Africa – the Lions’ opponents this summer.

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The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s home Test series against Eddie Jones England and their autumn schedule.

Having not played any game since October 2019, a match has now been pencilled in for June 12 in Shizuoka as part of a three-week camp that will be followed by the nation’s historic first Test against the Lions at Murrayfield on June 26.

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“It’s the best form of preparation we can manage given the uncertainty around the Lions match, which until a month ago we didn’t know whether it would take place,” said head coach Jamie Joseph about his plan for June.

“And the lack of international travel means teams cannot come into Japan, which affects the type of rugby game we can have as a warm-up for the British Lions. It’s not ideal preparation, but the Top League has really improved. 

“We haven’t played a Test match since the World Cup, but that doesn’t restrict the keenness or motivation the players have got. The Lions game is a one-off and there won’t be the normal pressure that would go along with a Test series.

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“It’s the first time Japan have played the Lions and that adds excitement to the occasion. I imagine there will be a lot of rust in the game. Players in the UK won’t have played together and these types of games can be messy, but there is a lot of excitement around it.”

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Rusty Japan plan warm-up before taking on the Lions in June

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