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Japan names 36-man rugby squad to face British and Irish Lions, Ireland and Sunwolves

Japan will face the British and Irish Lions, Ireland and Sunwolves at Edinburgh next month with a squad including 19 players who helped it to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Head coach Jamie Joseph on Monday reported a 36-man squad to play a warm-up match against former Super Rugby team the Sunwolves on June 12 preceding confronting the Lions at Murrayfield in Scotland on June 26 and Ireland at Dublin on July 3.

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has named a raft of 2019 World Cup legends in his 36-man squad to face the British and Irish Lions in Edinburgh one month from now.

Jamie Joseph affirmed the squad a day after the Top League final, managing 16 players from the 52-man wider training squad declared in April.

Of the individuals who got it done, 19 players from the Brave Blossoms squad that made a historic run to the 2019 World Cup knockout stages on home soil have returned for what is set to be Japan’s first test match since their quarter-final defeat to South Africa.

The squad, captained by World Cup captain Michael Leitch, incorporates 23 capped players with an aggregate of 476 test caps. It likewise contains 16 players who participated in the Japan Top League club final on Sunday, including seven from the champion Panasonic Wild Knights.

The Lions will play against Japan in front of their tour to South Africa. The first match will be played before a crowd of 16,500 — a quarter of the capacity at Murrayfield, however the biggest for a rugby match in Britain in 16 months. Japan is ranked 10th yet beat Ireland and Scotland on its way to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion South Africa at the World Cup it hosted in 2019.

Australians Ben Gunter and Jack Cornelsen are in line for Test debuts for Japan in the wake of being named in coach Jamie Joseph’s 36-man Brave Blossoms squad to face the British and Irish Lions next month.

Gunter and Jack Cornelsen join fellow Australian and 2019 World Cup star James Moore in the squad that will likewise play a warm-up game against former Super Rugby team the Sunwolves on June 12.

Japan shocked Ireland in its second pool game at the World Cup, leaving away with a 19-12 success, as the Brave Blossoms went through the pool stage undefeated to arrive at the knockout stage for the first time.

Prop Keita Inagaki, flyhalf Yu Tamura, flanker Pieter Labuschagne and center Ryoto Nakamura were likewise selected as Jamie Joseph picked 19 players from the World Cup squad, refering to the short preparation time and need for experience.

Jamie Joseph additionally picked 13 uncapped players, including 23-year-old scrum-half Naoto Saito, as he managed the squad from the original 54 candidates.

Japan will then play the Lions at Murrayfield in Scotland on June 26 and Ireland at Dublin on July 3.

The squad highlights players who aided Japan to the quarter-finals of the World Cup two years prior.

Captained by World Cup captain Michael Leitch, it incorporates 23 capped players with a total of 476 Test appearances.

The squad additionally contains 16 players who participated in the Japan Top League club final on Sunday, including seven from the Robbie Deans-coached champions the Panasonic Wild Knights.

The Lions will play against Japan in front of their tour to South Africa. The first match will be played before a crowd of 16,500 – a quarter of the capacity at Murrayfield, yet the biggest for a rugby match in Britain in 16 months.

Japan is ranked tenth however beat Ireland and Scotland while in transit to the quarter-finals before losing to eventual champions South Africa at the World Cup it hosted in 2019.

Japan will hold a training camp in southwestern Oita Prefecture before playing a practice game against the Sunwolves — who have improved for this one game — at Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka Prefecture on June 12 in front of the trip to Europe.

Matsushima, as of now in France with Clermont, and Himeno, who plays for New Zealand Super Rugby side the Highlanders, will join the squad in Europe.

Japan Rugby squad

Japan squad: Forwards, Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Ai Valu, Shinnosuke Kakinaga, Jiwon Koo, Craig Millar, Yukio Morikawa, Atsushi Sakate, Shunta Nakamura, Kosuke Horikoshi, Mark Abbot, Wimpie van der Walt, Uwe Helu, James Moore, Naoki Ozawa, Ben Gunter, Jack Cornelsen, Pieter Labushagne, Michael Leitch (capt), Tevita Tatafu, Amanaki Lelei, Kazuki Himeno; Backs, Koki Arai, Naoto Saito, Kaito Shigeno, Yu Tamura, Rikiya Matsuda, Shota Emi, Siosaia Fifita, Semisi Masirewa, Kotaro Matsushima, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Shane Gates, Ryoto Nakamura, Timothy Lafaele, Gerhard van den Heever, Ryohei Yamanaka.

Brave Blossoms squad to face British and Irish Lions, Ireland and Sunwolves

Props: Keita Inagaki (Panasonic Wild Knights), Asaeli Ai Valu (Panasonic Wild Knights), Shinnosuke Kakinaga (Suntory Sungoliath), Jiwon Koo (Honda Heat), Craig Millar (Panasonic Wild Knights), Yukio Morikawa (Suntory Sungoliath)

Hookers: Atsushi Sakate (Panasonic Wild Knights), Shunta Nakamura (Suntory Sungoliath)*, Kosuke Horikoshi (Suntory Sungoliath)

Locks: Mark Abbott (Munakata Sanix Blues)*, Wimpie van der Walt (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Uwe Helu (Yamaha Jubilo), James Moore (Munakata Sanix Blues)

Flankers: Naoki Ozawa (Suntory Sungoliath), Ben Gunter (Panasonic Wild Knights), Jack Cornelsen (Panasonic Wild Knights), Pieter Labuschagne (Kubota Spears), Michael Leitch (Toshiba Brave Lupus)

No 8s: Tevita Tatafu (Suntory Sungoliath), Amanaki Lelei Mafi (Canon Eagles), Kazuki Himeno (Toyota Verblitz/Highlanders)

Halfbacks: Koki Arai (Canon Eagles), Naoto Saito (Suntory Sungoliath), Kaito Shigeno (Toyota Verblitz)

First-Fives: Yu Tamura (Canon Eagles), Rikiya Matsuda (Panasonic Wild Knights)

Midfielders: Shane Gates (NTT Communications Shining Arcs)*, Ryoto Nakamura (Suntory Sungoliath), Timothy Lafaele (Kobelco Steelers)

Wings: Shota Emi (Suntory Sungoliath), Siosaia Fifita (Kintetsu Liners), Semisi Masirewa (Kintetsu Liners)*, Kotaro Matsushima (Clermont Auvergne), Lomano Lava Lemeki (Munakata Sanix Blues)

Fullbacks: Gerhard van den Heever (Kubota Spears)*, Ryohei Yamanaka (Kobelco Steelers)

* – indicates a new cap

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