Hirose returns as Japan change one for Wales

Japan coach Eddie Jones has named Toshiaki Hirose as captain of the team that will play Wales in this weekend’s second test in Japan.


Hirose is returning from injury and says that after last week’s close loss to Wales he hopes he can get Japan over the line in the second Test .


Hirose, who has been out since April, is the only change in the run-on team for Saturday’s second and final Test against the Six Nations champions, who won 22-18 to deny Japan their first ever victory over a major rugby power.


Japan, Asia’s number one team and the 2019 Rugby World Cup hosts, led until the 59th minute and out-scored Wales two tries to one, but were found wanting in the final quarter of the game in Osaka.


Wales are missing their head coach Warren Gatland, his assistant Rob Howley and 15 players, including captain Sam Warburton, who are on the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.


Right wing Hirose, who has been nursing a right leg injury, said a rejig of Japan’s passing combinations could make the difference as the Brave Blossoms try to seize their chance for a historic win.


“I’m really glad to be back. I’m excited to play a game,” said Hirose.


“We lost the previous game by only four points. I really want to win this time… We couldn’t score when we had the chance, so we changed our passing play a little bit. Hopefully, we can finish with a try,” he added.


Otago Highlanders scrumhalf Fumiaki Tanaka and Melbourne Rebels hooker Shota Horie will again be in action for Japan, while Hirose replaces Yoshikazu Fujita, who drops to the bench.


Last Saturday Toyota Verblitz number eight Takashi Kikutani skippered the side which features former Australian rugby league international Craig Wing at centre and New Zealand-born flanker Michael Broadhurst.


“I made one change in the starting line up. Captain Hirose is now fit again,” said Japan coach Eddie Jones.


“I’m really looking forward to the game. Obviously last game we were in a position to win the game, but we were not good enough. We were not satisfied with a close loss,” he added.


As well as hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2019, Japan have also laid out plans to break into the top 10 of rugby nations within two years.


Japan


Ayumu Goromaru; Toshiaki Hirose (capt), Male Sau, Craig Wing, Kenki Fukuoka; Harumichi Tatekawa, Fumiaki Tanaka; Takashi Kikutani, Michael Broadhurst, Hendrik Tui; Shoji Ito, Hitoshi Ono; Hiroshi Yamashita, Shota Horie, Masataka Mikami


Replacements: Takeshi Kizu, Yusuke Nagae, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Shinya Makabe, Justin Ives, Atsushi Hiwasa, Yu Tamura, Yoshikazu Fujita

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