PNC Preview: Japan v Junior All Blacks

The Junior All Blacks made eight changes and one positional switch, while Japan suffered a series of injury setbacks as the two sides prepare to go head-to-head in their final International Rugby Board (IRB) Pacific Nations Cup encounter in Tokyo on Sunday.

Japan coach John Kirwan revealed that he had problems finalising his team because of injury problems.

The Japanese have won just one of their four games in the competition, when they beat Tonga 20-17 at Coffs Harbour. They lost 15-30 to Fiji and 3-13 to Samoa, while suffering a 10-71 hammering at the hands of Australia ‘A’.

Kirwan admitted Sunday’s game will be another tough test for his team.

“Of course we feel some pressure and have changed some players, but I feel there shouldn’t be many problems as we have been training hard,” Kirwan said.

“For the Samoan and Tongan matches, the aim of our game plan was to attack their strength. However, for the match this coming Sunday, we will have to throw everything we have at them.

“As for our defense, the players will have to be patient and react to what they are facing.

“Ultimately, I would like to see the best performance from all of the players, as it is a great opportunity for them ahead of the World Cup.”

Junior All Blacks coach Colin Cooper made eight changes and one positional switch to the side that beat Australia ‘A’ 50-0 last week – a victory that secured them the PNC crown.

Daniel Braid will captain the ‘new” side.

The four changes in the forwards include a new front row of Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn and Campbell Johnstone, with Braid replacing Marty Holah at No 7.

Jimmy Cowan comes in at scrum-half, with Stephen Brett at fly-half, Tane Tu’ipulotu at inside centre and Rudi Wulf on the right wing in place of Scott Hamilton, who moves to fullback.

Cooper said the IRB Pacific Nations Cup once again underlined New Zealand’s player depth.

“We have a pool of exceptional athletes and we all benefited from that again this year when Junior All Blacks made the transition to the All Blacks when required. At the same time, we feel we have helped with the game’s development, particularly in the Pacific Islands,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the team was looking forward to their final clash against the Japanese at Prince Chichibu Stadium.

“They put on a spirited performance when we played them in Dunedin last year and I am sure they will be determined to do well in front of their home crowd,” he added.


Japan: 15 Bryce Robins, 14 Christian Loamanu, 13 Yuta Imamura, 12 Shotaro Onishi, 11 Hirotoki Onozawa, 10 Eiji Ando, 9 Yuki Yatomi, 8 Hare Makiri, 7 Glen Marsh, 6 Yasumori Watanabe, 5 Luke Thompson, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Tomokazu Soma, 2 Yuji Matsubara, 1 Masahito Yamamoto.
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Aoki, 17 Ryo Yamamura, 18 Takanori Kumagae, 19 Takamichi Sasaki, 20 Koichi Ohigashi, 21 Kousei Ono, 22 Go Aruga.

Junior All Blacks: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Ma’a Nonu, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Anthony Tuitavake, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Daniel Braid (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Hoani MacDonald, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Derren Witcombe, 17 John Afoa, 18 Kieran Read, 19 Mose Tuiali’i, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Sam Tuitupou.

Date: Sunday, June 24
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground, Tokyo
Kick-off: 14.00 (?? GMT)
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Touch judges: David Changleng (Scotland), Taizo Hiraybayashi (Japan)


365 Digital

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