Sakura Fifteen Team Announced for Samoa WXV Match

Japan Head Coach Lesley McKenzie has today named the Sakura Fifteen team to face Samoa in their second WXV2 match at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday, 21 October. Kicking off at 16:00 local time, 23:00 JST, the Sakura Fifteen will be looking to bounce back following their 28-15 loss to Italy in their opening match of the tournament.

Captained by openside-flanker, Iroha Nagata, this week’s side sees two new players come into the matchday 23, along with five positional changes from the team that went down to Italy, a result that brought Japan’s impressive unbeaten season and six-match winning streak to an end.

In the front-row, loosehead prop, Hinata Komaki and hooker, Kotomi Taniguchi are both promoted from the reserves bench and will pack down with Yuka Sadaka who starts once again at tighthead. The experienced Sachiko Kato moves to the bench to join Nijiho Nagata as the two reserve props, while Asuka Kuga also moves to the bench as the reserve rake.

The second-row sees the same locking combination of Masami Kawamura and Otoka Yoshimura, with Jennifer Nduka, who scored a try against Italy named on the bench as the reserve lock.

In the backrow, Seina Saito, Japan’s most capped player moves from the blindside to number-eight, meanwhile Sakurako Korai is promoted to the starting side, to cover the blindside flank. Captain, Iroha Nagata once again starts at number-seven, with last week’s number-eight, Ayano Nagai moving to the reserves bench as the backrow replacement.

The starting backline sees just two changes with Haruka Hirotsu coming into the team at inside-centre, while Kananko Kobayashi moves from inside to outside-centre. In the halves, the impressive combination of Megumi Abe at half-back and the 19-cap Ayasa Otsuka at flyhalf remains the same, with both players approaching the 20-cap mark.

The back-three once again sees Komachi Imakugi on the left wing, while Misaki Matsumura, the 18-year-old speedster who scored two tries against Italy covers the right-wing. Sora Nishimura is named again at fullback. The backline reserves consist of Kotono Yasuo and Minori Yamamoto, who plays in the Premier 15s with English side Worcester Warriors. They are joined by Sakurako Hatada who comes into the side for just her second test cap.

Commenting on the team selection, Sakura Fifteen High-Performance Advisor Simon Middleton said:

“Our results over the last two months of competition are a real reflection of the time we’ve been able to spend together as a group, the familiarity we have as a squad and the systems and processes we have in place around the game we want to play.

“This tournament is perfect for the team. We’re ready to make the step up to play teams of the calibre of Italy, Samoa, and Scotland. It gives us a great opportunity to play high quality opposition consistently. Last week against Italy, although we didn’t get the result, we put in a very strong performance and created lots of opportunities. But we also showed a little bit of our inexperience in that we didn’t take some of these opportunities, while an experienced Italy took theirs. That’s what you learn through experiencing more games and more tournaments, which is why WXV is so fantastic for this team.

“Samoa will be very different to Italy. We will need to use different skills and take a different approach, but the team has a fantastic ability to adapt and learn quickly. We’re really looking forward to what will be a very different challenge against Samoa.”

The match will be telecast live and available on catch-up via JSports On-demand, and delayed telecast will be shown on J SPORTS 4 from 17:00 JST on Sunday, 22 October. The entire WXV tournament will also be available on RugbyPass TV, World Rugby’s new global streaming platform.

Following their match against Samoa, the Sakura Fifteen take on Scotland in their final WXV match on Friday, 27 October, also taking place at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town.

Team List:

1Hinata KOMAKINippon Sport Science Univ.Nippon Sport Science Univ.166782001/5/912
2Kotomi TANIGUCHIYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-StarsNKS Corp163741995/4/1011
3Yuka SADAKAHirosaki sakura ovalsSEINAN Corp.1671001994/11/218
4Masami KAWAMURARKU GRACEMorooka Co.,Ltd.173701999/7/139
5Otoka YOSHIMURAARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYA/Rissho Univ.Rissho Univ.174832001/5/1513
6Sakurako KORAINippon Sport Science Univ.Nippon Sport Science Univ.168742003/4/97
7Iroha NAGATAARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYAKanto Foods Co.,Ltd.167701998/12/2125
8Seina SAITOMIE PEARLSSumitomo Wiring Systems167731992/5/3038
9Megumi ABEARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYARDC Co.,Ltd.147531998/4/2818
10Ayasa OTSUKARKU GRACEIBARAKI TOYOPET Co.,Ltd.163631999/5/519
11Komachi IMAKUGIARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYA/Rissho Univ.Rissho Univ.158622002/1/618
12Haruka HIROTSUNanairo PRISM FUKUOKAWaseda Univ.169682000/10/293
13Kanako KOBAYASHIYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars162701998/11/1310
14Misaki MATSUMURATokyo Sankyu PhoenixWaseda Univ.169682005/3/63
15Sora NISHIMURAMIE PEARLSChoko Co.,Ltd.167682000/9/296
16Sachiko KATOYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars164892000/2/1920
17Asuka KUGEARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYAGoto Hygine Consultant163751994/9/226
18Nijiho NAGATA162802000/12/614
19Jennifer NDUKAHokkaido Barbarians DianaMedical System Network165742000/10/183
20Ayano NAGAIYOKOHAMA TKMYokohama Mirai Healthcare System168841997/10/1419
21Kotono YASUOBRAVE LOUVEToyo Univ.156612001/10/27
22Sakurako HATADANippon Sport Science Univ.Nippon Sport Science Univ.161662003/5/81
23Minori YAMAMOTOWorcester Warriors Women169701996/12/926