Japan call up 17 new players

Date published: October 28 2016

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Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has selected a relatively inexperienced 32-man squad for their upcoming end-of-year internationals.

Joseph’s squad contains 17 uncapped players and there are 12 survivors from the squad that were in action at last year’s Rugby World Cup.

The Brave Blossoms kick off their end-of-year campaign against Argentina on November 5 in Tokyo before travelling to Georgia and Wales to take those countries and they finish their Test series against Fiji in Vannes, France on November 27.

Several injuries and numerous withdrawals forced Joseph to pick more inexperienced players.

“There are some players who are injured, who would have made the team,” Joseph told the Japan Times in reference to players like prop Keita Inagaki and lock Hitoshi Ono, who has represented his country in 98 Tests.

“There are some players who have not been selected on current form and there are some who have made themselves unavailable, which is disappointing. But the focus is on who has been selected. Those are the ones I want to talk about.”

Included amongst the new players are 22-year-old back-row Shuhei Matsuhashi, who has played well for the Ricoh Black Rams, and Yamaha prop Satoshi Nakatani, who is 35 years old.

Joseph has named hooker Shota Horie and centre Harumichi Tatekawa as his co-captains.

“They have the right credentials,” Joseph said of the duo who both play for the Sunwolves in Super Rugby.

“They are two of our best players, have got great leadership skills already, are captains of their company teams and know what the Japan jersey stands for.”

Joseph said he had used co-captains during his stint at the Highlanders and with such an inexperienced squad he felt “putting the responsibility on the shoulders of one man as captain would be far too much.”

Japan squad:

Forwards: Masataka Mikami (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Satoshi Nakatani (Yamaha Jubilo), Koki Yamamoto (Yamaha), Shota Horie (Panasonic Wild Knights), Takeshi Kizu (Kobe Kobelco Steelers), Takeshi Hino (Yamaha), Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory Sungoliath), Heiichiro Ito (Yamaha), Yasuo Yamaji (Canon Eagles), Kotaro Yatabe (Panasonic), Samuela Anise (Canon), Kyosuke Kajikawa (Toshiba), Amanaki Lelei Mafi (NTT Communications Shining Arcs), Yuhimaru Mimura (Yamaha), Malgene Ilaua (Toshiba), Uwe Helu (Yamaha), Shunsuke Nunomaki (Panasonic), Shuhei Matsuhashi (Ricoh Black Rams)

Backs: Fumiaki Tanaka (Panasonic), Yuki Yatomi (Yamaha), Takahiro Ogawa (Toshiba), Yu Tamura (NEC Green Rockets), Jumpei Ogura (NTT Comms), Timothy Lafaele (Coca-Cola Red Sparks), Harumichi Tatekawa (Kubota Spears), Kotaro Matsushima (Suntory), Akihito Yamada (Panasonic), Kenki Fukuoka (Panasonic), Lomano Lava Lemeki (Honda Heat), Karne Hesketh (Munakata Sanix Blues), Amanaki Lotoahea (Ricoh), Yasutaka Sasakura (Panasonic)

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