Rugby World Cup boost for Japan scrumhalf

Japan scrumhalf Atsushi Hiwasa was named the Asian Five Nations’ emerging player of the year on Thursday in a major boost to his World Cup selection hopes.

The 24-year-old Suntory Sungoliath player earned his first two international caps as the Brave Blossoms cruised to their fourth successive title and remained unbeaten in Asia’s premier Test event.

“I have a strong determination to maintain my good performances, and in doing so I hope to contribute to the development of Japanese rugby and Asian rugby as a whole,” said Hiwasa.

Japan coach John Kirwan said the “outstanding” Hiwasa, who shared scrumhalf duties with Fumiaki Tanaka, was a strong contender for the World Cup, where the team have only ever won one game.

“I look forward to his continued hard work and higher performance to be selected for the Rugby World Cup squad,” said the former All Black great.

Japan, who are currently playing the Pacific Nations Cup, are expected to announce their World Cup squad on August 22.

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