(Reuters) - Japan coach Jamie Joseph has made five changes to his starting lineup to face Ireland at Shizuoka’s Ecopa Stadium on Saturday with Harumichi Tatekawa, Akihito Yamada, Yu Chinen and Hitoshi Ono all unavailable through injury.
William Tupou wins his first cap in the back row and will start alongside Samoan-born Coca-Cola Red Sparks team mate Timothy Lafaele, while Kotaro Matsushima replaces Yamada on the wing.
Keita Inagaki and Heiichiro Ito, who both came off the bench in last week’s 33-21 win over Romania, will start on either side of captain Shota Horie in the front row.
Replacements Shintaro Ishihara and Yutaka Nagare are set to feature against a tier one side for the first time, while flanks Hendrik Tui and Shuhei Matsuhashi were picked as forwards on the bench, reflecting Japan’s lack of depth in the second row.
Japan: 15-Ryuji Noguchi, 14-Kotaro Matshima, 13-William Tupou, 12-Timothy Lafaele, 11-Kenki Fukuoka, 10-Yu Tamura, 9-Fumiaki Tanaka, 8-Amanaki Lelei Mafi, 7-Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 6-Michael Leitch, 5-Uwe Helu, 4-Kotaro Yatabe, 3-Heiichiro Ito, 2-Shota Horie (captain(, 1-Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16-Yusuke Niwai, 17-Shintaro Ishihara, 18-Takuma Asahara, 19-Hendrik Tui, 20-Shuhei Matsuhashi, 21-Yutaka Nagare, 22-Derek Carpenter, 23-Rikiya Matsuda.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru