Joseph Welcomes Back Senior Players for Wallabies Test

YOKOHAMA (Nov. 2) – Japan coach Jamie Joseph named his side Thursday to take on Australia on Saturday at Nissan Stadium.

Michael Leitch leads a 23-man squad that contains five new caps for the game at the stadium that will host the final of Rugby World Cup 2019.

Kazuki Himeno plays his first game for the national team at lock while there are a further four debutants on the bench in prop Asaeli Ai Valu, lock Wimpie van der Walt, back-row forward Fetuani Lautaimi and center Sione Teaupa.

Himeno partners Uwe Helu in the engine room, with Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie and Takuma Asahara in the front row, while Leitch makes up an athletic back row alongside No. 8 Amanaki Lelei Mafi and Shunsuke Nunomaki.

In the backs, Fumiaki Tanaka and Rikiya Matsuda form an exciting halfback partnership with Harumichi Tatekawa and Timothy Lafaele in the centres, Ryuji Noguchi and Lomano Lava Lemeki on the wings and Kotaro Matsushima at fullback.

“We have the return of some experienced players that weren’t available for the World XV match, such as Horie, Asahara, Tatekawa and Lafaele,” Joseph said.

“Fumi (Tanaka) also returns after we lost him in the first five minutes last week. Having those experienced guys against a very experienced Wallabies team is crucial.”

Atsushi Sakata, Koki Yamamoto, Yutaka Nagare and Yu Tamura make up the rest of the bench as Japan look to beat Australia for the first time in what will be the fifth game between the two countries.

“When we get the ball we need to create momentum and get behind them,” said Joseph. “When we do that we have the skill and speed to score against very good sides.”