Japan take on Ireland on Saturday with both teams having made a number of changes to the sides that started last week’s first test in Shizuoka, won 50-22 by the visitors.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph responded to the loss by making eight changes and two positional switches, and installing a new captain in Michael Leitch, while Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has made six changes and two positional switches
“We are giving an opportunity to some players who made an impact off the bench last week and some players have been demoted,” Joseph said.
“Last week we created enough opportunities but didn’t have enough ticker and hunger to put the Irish under pressure. We need to exert more pressure at set piece and if we keep it fast and execute our skills we can put Ireland under pressure.”
Five of the eight changes made by Joseph come in the pack with Shintaro Ishihara, Yusuke Niwai and Takuma Asahara forming an all new front row.
Veteran lock Luke Thompson returns to the side – with five other second rows injured – and joins up with Uwe Helu at lock with Shuhei Matsuhashi in at openside flanker to join Leitch and Amanaki Lelei Mafi in the back row
In the backs, there are new halfbacks in Yutaka Nagare and Jumpei Ogura and new centers in Yu Tamura and Kotaro Matsushima, who move from flyhalf and wing, respectively.
Akihito Yamada returns from injury and forms a quick and exciting back three with Kenki Fukuoka and Ryuji Noguchi.
On the bench, Keita Inagaki, Takuyuki Watanabe and Shota Horie are the back-up front-rowers, Kotaro Yatabe is the reserve lock and Yoshitaka Tokunaga covers the back row, while Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda and Ryohei Yamanaka are the replacement backs.
Three of Ireland’s changes are the result of injury with Simon Zebo (knee), Dan Leavy (head wound) and Luke McGrath (eye) all unavailable for selection.
“Dan will probably be OK by Saturday but we have some fresh players and in the circumstances we wanted to utilise them,” Schmidt said prior to naming his team on Thursday.
“The decision on Luke – he got an elbow in the eye – was precautionary. Simon trained this week and was sharp but still has some fluid on his knee after this morning’s sessions. He wasn’t as comfortable as we’d like him to be so we decided to give him a rest as well.”
In the forwards, James Tracy gets the nod at hooker ahead of Niall Scannell, Kieran Treadwell replaces Quinn Roux in the second row and Josh van der Flier comes in for Leavy at openside flanker.
In the backs, Andrew Conway shifts from wing to fullback in place of Zebo, while Keith Earls moves from left to right to allow Jacob Stockdale to start. Luke Marshall returns to the team at inside centre and Kieran Marmion replaces McGrath at scrumhalf.
Scrumhalf John Cooney will win his first cap for his country if he comes off the bench.
Photo Curtesy @jrfu
Story : Rich Freeman