Joseph makes changes for Georgia test

TOKYO (June 21) – Michael Leitch leads a Japan side showing seven changes and two positional switches as they look to wrap up their June test series with a win.

Having split their series with Italy, the Brave Blossoms take on Georgia at Toyota Stadium on Saturday but they are missing Kenki Fukuoka, Will Tupou, Kotaro Matsushima and Uwe Helu.

“The injuries have given us an opportunity us to bring in some fresh blood, some fresh players to make an impact and show us they can play international footy,” said head coach Jamie Joseph.

Captain Michael Leitch switches back to blindside flanker with specialist openside Shunsuke Nunomaki coming in at No.7 and Amanaki Lelei Mafi returning to the starting XV at No. 8.

Shinya Makabe is named at lock and partners Samuela Anise behind the established front row of Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki and Koo Ji Won.

In the backs, Yutaka Nagare replaces Fumiaki Tanaka at scrumhalf, Harumichi Tatekawa is named at inside center, while Yu Tamura and Lomano Lava Lemeki remain at flyhalf and right wing, respectively.

Akihito Yamada replaces Fukuoka, Ryuji Noguchi is brought in for Matsushima and Timothy Lafaele moves from 12 to 13 with Tupou ruled out.

On the bench, Joseph has gone for a 6:2 split with Yusuke Niwai, Shintaro Ishihara and Takuma Asahara the reserve front-row forwards.

The three other replacement forwards are Wimpie van der Walt, Kazuki Himeno and Masakatsu Nishikawa, who will win his first cap should he take to the field.

Tanaka and Rikiya Matsuda are the back-up backs.

“This test match, although it is against a different side, for me it’s a chance to overcome last week’s defeat and mentally get up again,” said Joseph. “If we can finish the June series with two wins, I think it will be a success, and that’s what we are aiming at.”