Japan name Ex-Kangaroo in squad

Date published: August 31 2015

Former Australia Rugby League star Craig Wing has been included in Japan’s squad 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

Chiefs back-rower Michael Leitch will captain the side named by former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones on Monday.

Just four props and two scrum-halves were named in the side as Jones looked for players with versatility.

The squad, comprising 17 forwards and 14 backs also includes Reds back-rower Hendrik Tui, Highlanders scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka and Michael Broadhurst – the brother of one-Test All Blacks lock James Broadhurst.

Jones said the squad has a good balance of youth and experience.

"When we started this project four years ago we aimed to build a squad with international experience with the starting members having around 600 caps," said Jones.

"We are going to be short on that but we do have experience in the team.

"The 31 players have worked very hard for selection and they understand the responsibility they carry. Most have worked hard for the last four years to change Japanese rugby and now the ultimate test is in front of us."

Jones paid tribute to the players who did not make the squad but said that most of the 13 named back-up players would be in contention for a spot at Rugby World Cup 2019.

Clubless number eight Hayden Hopgood was one of eight players trimmed from Jones’s training squad. Jones had sympathy for the New Zealand-born backrow forward.

"Foreign players in Japan get criticised a lot, but Hayden spent the last five months without any pay trying to get into the squad even after his wife had a baby," said the coach.

"We have tried to cover as many possibilities as we can," explained Joines regarding his decision to take just four specialist props and two scrum-halves with Hisateru Hirashima and Keisuke Uchida eventually missing the cut.

Kosei Ono (who can cover scrum-half) and former captain Toshiaki Hirsoe were both named in the backs and Justin Ives in the forwards with Jones saying their versatility proved a big factor.

"No one is guaranteed a game. We are going to pick our strongest team every week and every game so some players may just be there to support the team.

"We want to make the final eight at the World Cup and be remembered as the team of the tournament. We will leave tomorrow with our heads held high and aim to return with our heads held high."'

Thirteen players were named as standby players with Takayuki Watanabe set to travel with the squad for the first week so he can sit on the bench for the final warm-up game against Georgia in Gloucester on Sept. 5.

Japan open their Rugby World Cup campaign against South Africa on Sept. 19 in Brighton, before they take on Scotland, Samoa and the United States.

Japan squad: Michael Leitch (c), Justin Ives, Shoji Ito, Keita Inagaki, Hitoshi Ono, Takeshi Kizu, Hendrik Tui, Luke Thompson, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Michael Broadhurst, Ryu Holani, Shota Horie, Shinya Makabe, Amanaki Mafi, Masataka Mikami, Hiroshi Yamashita, Hiroki Yuhara, Craig Wing, Kosei Ono, Ayumu Goromaru, Male Sau, Harumichi Tatekawa, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yu Tamura, Toshiaki Hirose, Atsushi Hiwasa, Kenki Fukuoka, Yoshikazu Fujita, Karne Hesketh, Kotaro Matsushima, Akihito Yamada