Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Friday, 19 August 2011 12:49    PDF Print Write e-mail
Japan Makes Changes for USA
International - International News

TOKYO - Japan coach John Kirwan has made wholesale changes for Sunday’s test against The United States, Japan’s last before they leave for the Rugby World Cup.

Kirwan made 12 personnel changes and one positional switch from the team that lost 31-24 to Italy last week, though he admitted he had always planned to play two different starting XVs.

“I believe everyone in the squad should have the opportunity to put themselves forward for selection for the game against France [on Sept. 10]. And I told the players that last week,” he said.

The game comes a day before Kirwan must name his 30-man squad for the RWC and the former All Black is hopeful his team can repeat their performances of 2008 when they beat the Eagles 29-19 and 32-17.

“It’s very important that we go to the World Cup with a win and a good performance behind us,” Kirwan said. “I haven’t set the team any particular targets. We just need to win and win well.”

Captain Takashi Kikutani moves to No. 8 from blindside flanker and lines up alongside Sione Vatuvei and Tadasuke Nishihara in the backrow.

Luke Thompson and Hitoshi Ono start at lock with Naoki Kawamata, Yusuke Aoki and Nozomu Fujita in the front row.

The two players to line up in the same jerseys as last week are wing Takehisa Usuzuki and centre Ryan Nicholas, though Nicholas only came into the side as the result of an ankle injury to Yuta Imamura that will keep him out for two weeks.

Nicholas lines up alongside Alisi Tupuailei with Tomoki Yoshida and Murray Williams at halfback, while Hirotoki Onozawa returns on the left wing with utility back Taihei Ueda at fullback.Jap