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Leitch to snatch record as Japan team for England is named

Japan's flanker Michael Leitch is tackled as he runs with the ball during the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has named his match-day squad to face England in Pool D at Stade de Nice on Sunday, 17 September, with back-row Michael Leitch on course to make his 15th Rugby World Cup appearance.

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Joseph has made four changes to his starting XV from last week’s win over Chile, with Shota Horie, Pieter Labuschagne and captain Kazuki Himeno coming in to the forwards pack and Tomoki Osada joining the backs.

Kazuki Himeno will captain his first Rugby World Cup match in only his fourth test in charge. He made his captaincy debut against Tonga in the 2023 Pacific Nations Cup six years after making his test debut for Japan.

Michael Leitch will become Japan’s most capped Rugby World Cup player in his 15th match at this tournament, surpassing Luke Thompson. He scored Japan’s only try against the British and Irish Lions in Edinburgh in 2021 in a match featuring current England internationals Courtney Lawes, Jamie George and Owen Farrell.

He was also superb in defence for Japan against Chile, completing 15 of his 16 tackle attempts, making one breakdown steal from four defensive ruck arrivals, forcing one tackle turnover, and making one lineout steal.

JAPAN TEAM TO PLAY ENGLISH ON SUNDAY 17 SEPTEMBER

1 Keita Inagaki
2 Shota Horie
3 Jiwon Gu
4 Jack Cornelsen
5 Amato Fakatava
6 Michael Leitch
7 Pieter Labuschagne
8 Kazuki Himeno (c)
9 Yutaka Nagare
10 Rikiya Matsuda
11 Jone Naikabula
12 Ryoto Nakamura
13 Tomoki Osada
14 Kotaro Matsushima
15 Semisi Masirewa

Replacements:
16 Atsushi Sakate
17 Craig Millar
18 Asaeli Ai Valu
19 Warner Dearns
20 Kanji Shimokawa
21 Naoto Saito
22 Dylan Riley
23 Lomano Lemeki

There are 13 survivors in his match-day team from the last time they played England in 2022, including their only try-scorer that day in Naoto Saito.

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