Japan predict tough S. Korean challenge at Five Nations

Japan’s coach John Kirwan has predicted a do-or-die challenge from South Korea in their opener of the inaugural Asian Five Nations rugby tournament on Saturday.

“South Korea have been our rivals traditionally and, moreover, they are playing at home. I expect them to play for their lives,” Kirwan told his squad on Wednesday, according to the Japan Rugby Football Union’s website.

“We must play hard to crush their ambitions within 15 minutes of action,” the All Black legend said at the end of a nine-day training camp outside Tokyo.

He also announced his 22-member team to play South Korea at Incheon to stake Japan’s number-one status in Asia. The team were to arrive at Incheon on Thursday.

Kirwan has trimmed his Five Nations squad to 25 from an initial 30, which he named three weeks ago, by dropping compatriot standoff Shaun Webb and others while replacing injured players.

Hong Kong travel to Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates to play the Gulf team, who are ranked fifth in the 22-member Asian Rugby Union.

Kazakhstan are also in the round-robin competition, with Test matches held on five consecutive weekends throughout April and May.

Kirwan’s squad include flyhalf James Arlidge, who won his first cap against South Korea a year ago only to see his World Cup hopes disappear after he suffered a broken leg playing against the Classic All Blacks in May.

The 28-year-old New Zealander, who previously played for Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, is now based in England.

Takuro Miuchi, Japan’s skipper at the last two World Cups and the most experienced member of the squad with 40 caps, captains the team playing against South Korea.

The Japanese team to play South Korea in the opening match in Incheon on Saturday:


Tatsukichi Nishiura (Coca-Cola), Yusuke Aoki (Suntory), Tomokazu Soma (Sanyo), Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba), Tomoaki Taniguchi (Toyota), Koji Shinozuka (Suntory), Takashi Kikutani (Toyota), Takuro Miuchi (NEC), Taku Inokuchi (Toshiba), Akira Ozaki (Suntory), Toshizumi Kitagawa (Toyota), Yoshitaka Nakayama (Toyota)


Tomoki Yoshida (Toshiba), James Arlidge (no club affiliation, formerly NTT DoCoMo), Hirotoki Onozawa (Suntory), Ryan Nicholas (Suntory), Bryce Robins (NEC), Hiroki Yoshida (Toshiba), Go Aruga (Suntory), Takashi Sato (Yamaha), Shotaro Onishi (Yamaha), Tatsuya Kusume (Toyota)

Sapa-AFP – Rugbyweek.com   

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