Japan make ten changes for All Blacks in RWC

Japan winger Hirotoki Onozawa will appear in a national record 10th Rugby World Cup match after being selected to play against New Zealand on Friday, one of only five players retained from the opening loss to France.

Japan coach John Kirwan announced a virtual second-string lineup Wednesday, basically sacrifing the match against No. 1-ranked New Zealand to focus on the later Pool A matches against Tonga on Sept. 21 and Canada on Sept. 27.

The only other survivors from the 47-21 loss to France were lock Toshizumi Kitagawa, backrowers Michael Leitch and Takashi Kikutani and center Koji Taira.

Murray Williams will come into the starting lineup at flyhalf to replace James Arlidge, who scored all of Japan’s points – including two tries -against France last Saturday.

Japan has a history of gamesmanship at the Rugby World Cup. After opening the 2007 edition against Australia, Japan used a completely new starting 15 against Fiji in its second match four days later.

Kirwan’s squad earned high praise after ruffling two-time finalist France, closing the gap to 25-21 midway through the second half and going within meters of scoring again before conceding a late flurry of tries.

Japan: Taihei Ueda, Takahisa Usuzuki, Koji Taira, Yuta Imamura, Hirotoki Onozawa, Murray Williams, Atsushi Hiwasa; Takashi Kikutani (captain), Michael Leitch, Itaru Taniguchi, Toshizumi Kitagawa, Hithoshi Ono, Nozomu Fujita, Yusuke Aoki, Naoki Kawamata.

Reserves: Hiroki Yuhara, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Yuji Kitagawa, Sione Talikavili Vatuvei, Tomoki Yoshida, Shaun Webb, Alisi Tupuailai.

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