Joseph Names Side to Make on World XV

OSAKA (Oct. 25) – Japan coach Jamie Joseph has named a 25-man squad to take on the World XV on Friday night as the iconic Hanazono Rugby Ground reopens following refurbishment ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019.

Michael Leitch will lead the side from blindside flanker as the Japan XV looks to finally get a win over the invitation side, having lost their two previous games.

Keita Inagaki and Hiroshi Yamashita, who returns to the national fold for the first time since the 2015 World Cup, will pack down in the front row either side of hooker Yusuke Niwai.

Wimpie van der Walt and Samuela Anise pack down in the second row with Leitch, Hendrik Tui and Shunsuke Nunomaki in the back row.

In the backs, Yutaka Nagare and Yu Tamura pair up at halfback with Timothy Lafaele and William Tupou in the centers.

Kenki Fukuoka, Lomano Lava Lemeki provide pace and power on the wings and former Japan sevens representative Jamie Henry has been named at fullback.

With both sides agreeing to play 10 players off the bench, Atsushi Sakate, Koki Yamamoto, Asaeli Ai Valu, Uwe Helu, Masakatsu Nishikawa and Isileli Nakajima are the back-up forwards for the Japan XV.

Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryota Nakamura and Ryohei Yamanaka are the reserve backs.

Japan lost 45-20 to the World XV in 2015 in Tokyo and 47-27 a year ago in Fukuoka.

Following Friday’s game in Osaka, the Brave Blossoms will play tests against New Zealand, England and Russia in Tokyo, London and Gloucester, respectively.