Japanese star Ohata to miss World Cup
Japan coach John Kirwan has been forced to make three changes to his 30-man squad for Rugby World Cup 2007 after losing players to injury, the most high profile of casualties being wing Daisuke Ohata with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Ohata, the world’s record try scorer in Test rugby, had only returned to the Japan side earlier this month after rupturing his right Achilles tendon in January, but suffered the same fate to his left Achilles in last weekend’s practice match against Portugal.
France would have been the third Rugby World Cup for the Japanese star, but he has now returned to Japan with his place in the squad being taken by Tomoki Kitagawa, the 24-year-old who has won only two caps in comparison to Ohata’s 58.
The loss of Ohata is not the only problem for Kirwan with fly half Eiji Ando ruled out on Tuesday after damaging ligaments in his right knee in the 15-13 defeat of Portugal in Venice, his place being taken by the uncapped wing cum fullback Tatsuya Kusumi.
Ando’s injury leaves 20-year-old Kosei Ono as the only recognised fly half in the Japan squad and with just four Tests to his name, while Kirwan had already been forced to replace hooker Mitsugu Yamamoto (hamstring) with Inokuchi Tako.
Changes for Samoa, Italy and Argentina
Kirwan, though, is not the only national coach to have been forced to call up replacements since declaring their 30-man squad with his former All Black teammate Michael Jones losing a player from his Samoan squad.
Jones, who like Kirwan was a member of the only New Zealand team to win the World Cup back in 1987, has had to replace one 27-year-old prop for another with Alfie Vaeluaga called up after Donald Kerslake was forced out through injury.
Argentina coach Marcelo Loffreda has also had to make a change to his initial 30-man squad after centre Martin Gaitán was taken ill after the Pumas’ 27-20 loss to Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 18 August.
Gaitán was admitted to a local hospital after fainting and suffering chest pains, where it was discovered he had a blocked artery and duly underwent surgery. His place in the squad has been taken by Hernan Senillosa.
Two other changes to have been made since the squads were declared are Carlo Del Fava replacing Fabio Staibano for Italy and France prop Sylvain Marconnet missing out after failing to recover from his broken leg with Nicholas Mas taking his place.
- Playoff Winner
- South Africa
- New Zealand