Young Australian trio close to completing allegiance switch after being named in Japan squad
The Australian trio of Dylan Riley, Jack Cornelsen and Ben Gunter are a step closer to donning the colours of Japan after being named in a 52-man training squad by Brave Blossoms head coach Jamie Joseph.
Queensland-educated, the young Australians have qualified on residential grounds after performing for the Panasonic Wild Knights in the country’s Top League.
The Wild Knights, who are coached by former Wallaby mentor Robbie Deans, took out the white conference of this year’s competition, giving the team top seeding for the upcoming elimination playoffs.
While Gunter, who was born in Thailand but schooled at Brisbane Boys’ College, had been in a previous training squad, inclusion is a first for Cornelsen, who will follow his famous father Greg into test rugby should he win selection for the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarterfinalists.
Cornelsen senior is Australian rugby royalty after writing his name into history when he scored four tries during the Wallabies’ shock 30-16 win over the All Blacks in the third test of the 1978 series at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Riley, who is a former Australian Under-20 representative, joined Panasonic three years ago after failing to secure a Super Rugby contract.
He has been a standout for the Wild Knights this year, and last weekend scored three tries.
The Australians are three of 11 players from Panasonic who have made the cut, only the red conference champions Suntory Sungoliath have more representatives, with 12.
The Brisbane State High School product James Moore, who has played eight tests for Japan since his debut in 2019, has also been included.
Moore is one of sixteen players who featured when Japan famously beat Scotland 28-21 to secure a maiden Rugby World Cup quarter-final.
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