Kirwan names 22-man Japan squad for Kazakhs

Japan coach John Kirwan on Thursday picked a 22-man squad, including five uncapped players, to take on Kazakhstan in the opener of the Asian Five Nations rugby tournament at the weekend.

The Brave Blossoms, who won the inaugural Five Nations title last year, will be skippered by Toyota Verblitz flanker Takashi Kikutani in the match on Saturday in Osaka.

Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kazakhstan are in the round-robin competition which All Black legend Kirwan hopes to use as a basis for forming his squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

There are two newcomers in the starting line-up — Tongan number-eight Touetsu Taufa and prop Hiroshi Yamashita.

Japan team to play Kazakhstan at Osaka on Saturday: (15-1)

Ayumu Goromaru (Yamaha); Hiroki Yoshida (Toshiba), Bryce Robins (NEC/NZL), Yuta Imamura (Kobe Steel), Hirotoki Onozawa (Suntory); Shaun Webb (Coca Cola West/NZL), Yuki Yatomi (Yamaha); Touetsu Taufa (Kintetsu/capt/TON), Takashi Kikutani (Toyota), Philip O’Reilly (Yokogawa Musashino/NZL), Luke Thompson (Kintetsu/NZL), Toshizumi Kitagawa (Toyota); Hiroshi Yamashita (Kobe Steel), Yusuke Aoki (Suntory), Hisateru Hirashima (Kobe Steel) Replacements: Tateo Kanai (Suntory), Shinsuke Nakamura (Nihon University), Michael Leitch (Tokai University/NZL) Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba), Fumiaki Tanaka (Sanyo), Tatsuhiko Otao (Yamaha), Jack Tarrant (Mitsubishi/NZL)


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