Japan coach Joseph names match squad for RWC opener against Russia

Captain Michael Leitch is one of eight players in Japan's match-day squad who were also in the 23 that defeated South Africa in the Brave Blossoms' RWC 2015 opener.

TOKYO, 18 Sep - Japan coach Jamie Joseph has named his team for the Pool A match against Russia at Tokyo Stadium on Friday, 20 September.

Michael Leitch, pictured, will become the second player to captain Japan at two World Cups, following Takuro Miuchi, and is one of eight players in Japan's matchday squad who were also in the 23 that defeated South Africa in the Brave Blossoms' RWC 2015 opener.

Like Leitch, Shota Horie and Kotaro Matsushima started then and will start in the RWC 2019 opener on Friday. Fumiaki Tanaka, Luke Thompson and Hendrik Tui started then and will be replacements at Tokyo Stadium. Keita Inagaki and Yu Tamura were replacements then.

Tamura has made more test appearances (20) for the Brave Blossoms during Jamie Joseph's tenure as Japan head coach than any other player. Named in the starting XV, Tamura will extend that number to 21.

Luke Thompson could become the oldest player to represent Japan in the competition. At 38, he is the oldest player at RWC 2019. Should he come off the bench, Thompson will surpass Hitoshi Ono, who was 37 when he played for the Brave Blossoms four years ago.

Thompson could become the first player to feature for Japan in four World Cups. Yukio Motoki was also part of four RWC squads, but was an unused sub in 1991.

Winger Kotaro Matsushima has recorded at least one try in five of his last six test appearances, with a total of six.

 JAPAN 

  1. Keita Inagaki
  2. Shota Horie
  3. Asaeli Ai Valu
  4. Wimpie van der Walt
  5. James Moore
  6. Michael Leitch (capt.)
  7. Pieter Labuschagne
  8. Kazuki Himeno
  9. Yutaka Nagare
  10. Yu Tamura
  11. Lomano Lava Lemeki
  12. Ryoto Nakamura
  13. Timothy Lafaele
  14. Kotaro Matsushima
  15. William Tupou

  16. Atsushi Sakate
  17. Isileli Nakajima
  18. Jiwon Koo
  19. Luke Thompson
  20. Hendrik Tui
  21. Fumiaki Tanaka
  22. Rikiya Matsuda
  23. Ryohei Yamanaka

RNS sw