Joseph makes 8 changes for Japan’s final ARC game

TOKYO (May 11) – Japan head into their final game of this year’s Asia Rugby Championship with a side showing eight changes from the team that won their Round 3 game in Tokyo last week.

Head coach Jamie Joseph flew with his team to Hong Kong on Thursday where they take on the hosts at Hong Kong Football Club on Saturday, knowing they need just one point to clinch their 10th straight title since the competition became an annual affair.

Having stared last week’s 29-17 win over the same opponents on the bench, scrumhalf Yutaka Nagare returns to the starting XV to skipper the side, which has one potential new cap in back-up hooker  Kosuke Horikoshi.

Nagare is partnered at halfback by Takuya Yamasawa, who gets his first start for his country, while Ryota Nakamura links up with Kanta Shikao in the midfield.

Amanaki Lotoahea returns on the left wing, Akihito Yamada is on the right and Ryuji Noguchi retains his place at fullback after an impressive showing last week

In the forwards, tighthead prop Takayuki Watanabe gets a start and packs down alongside Shintaro Ishihara and Atsushi Sakate in the front row.

Kotaro Yatabe returns to partner Samuela Anise in the second row while Yoshitaka Tokunaga and Naoki Ozawa start at flanker alongside No. 8 Shuhei Matsuhashi.

Horikoshi is joined on the bench by fellow replacement front-rowers Kohei Asahori and Yu Chinen with Yuya Odo, Malgene Ilaua and Shokei Kin the other forwards.

Scrumhalf Kaito Shigeno and flyhalf/centre Rikiya Matsuda provide cover for the backs.