* Joseph tries out new halfback pairing
* Japan and Russia will open 2019 Rugby World Cup in Tokyo (adds details)
LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Japan have made five changes to the team facing Russia in Gloucester on Saturday as the Brave Blossoms try out a new halfback pairing in the dress rehearsal for the opening match of next year’s World Cup.
Rikiya Matsuda will start at flyhalf and Kaito Shigeno at scrumhalf, with Tongan-born Amanaki Taiyo Lotoahea named on the wing after coach Jamie Joseph tinkered with his team on Thursday following last weekend’s 35-15 loss to England at Twickenham.
Shigeno’s appearance will be his first in 17 months for Japan.
Among the forwards, Hendrik Tui is restored to the starting line-up at the back of the scrum and Kazuki Himeno comes in at lock.
Japan and Russia clash again on Sept. 20, 2019 at the Tokyo Stadium to get the next Rugby World Cup underway with a Pool A encounter.
15-Willam Tupou, 14-Amanaki Taiyo Lotoahea, 13-Timothy Lafaele, 12-Ryoto Nakamura, 11-Kenki Fukuoka, 10-Rikiya Matsuda, 9-Kaito Shigeno, 8-Hendrik Tui, 7-Masakatsu Nishikawa, 6-Michael Leitch (captain), 5-Wimpie van der Walt, 4-Kazuki Himeno, 3-Jiwon Koo, 2-Atsushi Sakate, 1-Keita Inagaki
Replacements: 16-Kosuke Horikoshi, 17-Matsataska Mikami, 18-Hiroshi Yamashita, 19-Yuya Odo, 20-Isileli Nakajima, 21-Yutaka Nagare, 22-Yu Tamura, 23-Yusuke Kajimura. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by John O’Brien)