Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Japan name their summer squad as they prepare for 2014


Eddie Jones has named a 40 man squad for Japan's fixtures in Asian 5 Nations, Pacific Nations Cup and one off test with Italy over the months of May and June.

Hayden Hopgood
The biggest surprise selection in the squad is the former Hurricanes and Chiefs flanker Hayden Hopgood, who qualified through residency last year after three seasons at Toyota Verblitz and has just completed his fourth. Hopgood is 33 years old and wasn't required at all last year, so his call up is sudden and unexpected.

Other notable uncapped players in the squad are loosehead prop Keita Inagaki and number 8 Kyosuke Horie who were both named in the Top League Dream Team in their debut seasons, Horie was previously part of the Japan tour in November as well. Lock Naohiro Kotaki who's still at University and named just for experience.

The uncapped backs are midfielder Yasuki Hayashi who was called up to replace the injured Tatekawa in November and Suntory Sungoliath wingers Daishi Murata and Kataro Matsushima who is half South African and recently joined from the Sharks Academy. None of them at this point will likely feature in the big matches in June.

Kosei Ono
The most notable absentee in the squad is fly half Kosei Ono, who is missing due to family issues. Other players from last year's squad to miss out are fringe players, hooker Takeshi Kizu, lock Toshizumi Kitagawa, centre Seichii Shimomura and wing Yuta Imamura. Also the veteran wing Hirotoki Onozawa is absent after another long term injury and sadly his career looks like it's heading to an injury clouded end.

The squad will play in total 8 matches over 9 weeks. Starting with an invitational side under the name “Asia Pacific Dragons” on the 26 April, then Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Hong Kong in May followed by one rest weekend, and the onto the big matches against Canada and USA in the Pacific Nations Cup and a home game against Italy.

Full Squad:

Looseheads: Masataka Mikami (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Yusuke Nagae (Unattached, 15 caps), Hisateru Hirashima (Kobelco Steelers), Keita Inagaki (Panasonic Wild Knights, Uncapped)

Hookers: Shota Horie (Melbourne Rebels, 27 caps), Yusuke Aoki (Suntory Sungoliath, 30 caps), Hiroki Yuhara (Toshiba Brave Lupus)

Tightheads: Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory Sungoliath),  Hiroshi Yamashita (Kobelco Steelers, 29 caps), Takuma Asahara (Toshiba Brave Lupus)

Locks: Luke Thompson (Kintetsu Liners), Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Shinya Makabe (Suntory Sungoliath), Shoji Ito (Kobelco Steelers), Justin Ives (Canon Eagles), Naohiro Kotaki (Teikyo)

Flankers: Michael Leitch (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Hendrik Tui (Suntory Sungoliath), Michael Broadhurst (Ricoh Black Rams), Ryuta Yasui (Kobelco Steelers), Hayden Hopgood (Toyota Verblitz)

Number 8’s: Ryu Holani (Panasonic Wild Knights), Takashi Kikutani (Toyota Verblitz), Kyosuke Horie (Yamaha Jubilo)

Scrum Halves: Fumiaki Tanaka (Highlanders), Atsushi Hiwasa (Suntory Sungoliath), Keisuke Uchida (Tsukuba)

Fly Halves: Harumichi Tatekawa (Brumbies), Ryoto Nakamura (Teikyo)

Centres: Male Sa’u (Melbourne Rebels), Craig Wing (Kobelco Steelers), Yu Tamura (NEC Green Rockets), Yasuki Hayashi (Panasonic Wild Knights)

Wingers: Toshiaki Hirose (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Kenki Fukuoka (Tsukuba), Yoshikazu Fujita (Waseda), Akihito Yamada (Panasonic Wild Knights), Kotaro Matsushima (Suntory Sungoliath), Daishi Murata (Suntory Sungoliath)

Full Back: Ayumu Goromaru (Yamaha Jubilo)

Note: Super Rugby players won’t join the squad for the first few matches.

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