South Korea take on Japan in the 2017 Asia Rugby Championship opener (Korea Vs Japan) on Saturday hoping the benefit and confidence gained from a ground breaking tour will hold them in good stead.
The Koreans shared a two-test series with Chile in November 2016 and head coach John Walters said the tour had been invaluable.
“Going there was huge and it was the first time we had beaten a side outside Asia,” Walters said Friday following his team’s captain’s run at Incheon Namdong Asiad Rugby Field
“It gave the boys a huge amount of confidence and if we can get our selection consistent and our injured players back, it will give us a chance to really make progress.”
The Korean squad for this year’s ARC features many of the players that made the trip to South America with Kim Jeong-min leading a side that will look to run the ball.
Kim and fellow flanker Kim Hyun-soo are both openside flankers and with Shin Ki-cheol a threat at scrumhalf, the Koreans are hopeful they can threaten the Japan defense.
“The players are skillful and the young boys play with a lot of passion and we want to combine those two attributes,” said the captain.
Japan also have a young side with 11 uncapped players included in the 23-man squad.
Yutaka Nagare leads a side with plenty of Top League if not test-match experience and there are a number of Sunwolves from whom coach Jamie Joseph is expecting big things,
“There are guys like(hooker Takeshi) Hino and (flyhalf Jumpei) Ogura who haven’t played for some time due to injury or non selection. There are also some players who were overlooked for the Sunwolves and this is their chance to put their hand up.”
Joseph has also picked two students in Ryuji Noguchi and Seiya Ozaki, who the former New Zealand and Japan international described as “electric.”
Nagare, meanwhile, said he was “very excited to be winning his first cap.”
“The ARC is an important part of the development for young players and a chance to put their hand up ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019.” Japan
Article By : Rich Freeman
Korea Vs Japan
Teams:Korea Vs Japan
Date: Saturday, 22 April 2017
Location: Namdong Asiad Rugby Stadium in Incheon
Referee: Stephen Copeman (Hong Kong)