Preview: Canada v Japan

Date published: June 6 2014

Canada begin the Pacific Nations Cup against Japan on Saturday, with Tyler Ardron captaining their line-up at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.

Canada open their Pacific Nations Cup campaign against Japan in Burnaby on Saturday, with Tyler Ardron captaining the side at Swangard Stadium.

Ospreys back-row Ardron skippers the team from the number eight spot, with Jebb Sinclair and John Moonlight completing what is a strong trio.

The tight-five includes the experienced front-row of Hubert Buydens, Ray Barkwill and Jason Marshall with Tyler Hotson and Jamie Cudmore at lock.

Meanwhile, Gordron McRorie is set to receive his first cap after being named as starting scrum-half and Harry Jones will lead the backs from fly-half.

“It is a huge honour for me to be selected for my first cap against Japan this weekend and I look forward to the challenge,” said a proud McRorie.

The centre pairing of Nick Blevins and Ciaran Hearn, who started side-by-side on six occasions last year including against Japan, slot in outside of Jones, while the back-three includes an exciting blend of speed, power and experience as Taylor Paris, Jeff Hassler and James Pritchard combine.

“I think there's some really good depth in this group, and there's a lot of good competition amongst the roster,” said head coach Kieran Crowley, who has the likes of Adam Kleeberger, Phil Mack, Connor Braid and DTH van der Merwe waiting on the bench.

“Japan are a strong, well-coached side and they will be a difficult game for us. We narrowly lost last year in Nagoya and I know our guys will be keen to take them on again on Saturday.”

Japan, having won their last seven fixtures, including last weekend against Samoa, pose a stiff challenge for their hosts, particularly as they have had Canada's number on recent occasions, including a 16-13 victory last year in Nagoya which was Canada's only loss of the 2013 Pacific Nations Cup.

Eddie Jones makes five changes to the team that started the win over the Samoans as Shota Horie, Fumiaki Tanaka and Male Sa'u all return to the starting XV.

Luke Thompson and Justin Ives are promoted off the bench, with Horie packing down between Masataka Mikami and Kensuke Hatakeyama in the front-row while Thompson joins Japan's most capped player, Hitoshi Ono, in the second-row.

Ives returns to the back-row and will line up alongside captain Michael Leitch and Ryu Koliniasi Holani.

Tanaka – who makes his first appearance of the year in a Japan jersey having missed the Asian 5 Nations – partners Harumichi Tatekawa at half-back, with Sa'u joining Yu Tamura in the centres, after the injured Kotaro Matsushima was forced to return home.

The back three remains the same with Akihito Yamada and Yoshikazu Fujita on the wings and Ayumu Goromaru at full-back.

The teams:

Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Harry Jones, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Tyler Ardron (capt), 7 John Moonlight, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Jamie Cudmore, 4 Tyler Hotson, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Tiedemann, 17 Aaron Carpenter, 18 Jake Ilnicki, 19 Jon Phelan, 20 Adam Kleeberger, 21 Phil Mack, 22 Connor Braid, 23 DTH van der Merwe.

Japan: 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Yoshikazu Fujita, 13 Male Sa'u, 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Leitch (capt), 6 Justin Ives, 5 Luke Thompson, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Replacements: 16. Hisateru Hirashima, 17 Takeshi Kizu, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Shoji Ito, 20 Shinya Makabe, 21 Hendrik Tui, 22 Atsushi Hiwasa, 23 Toshiaki Hirose.

Date: Saturday, June 7
Kick-off: 18:00 local (Sunday 02:00 BST, 01:00 GMT)
Venue: Swangard Stadium, Burnaby
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Greg Garner (England), Nick Ricono (USA)