July 17, 2019 / 7:10 AM / a month ago

Rugby-Japan name inexperienced squad for World Cup warmups

TOKYO, July 17 (Reuters) - Japan coach Jamie Joseph has named three uncapped players in an inexperienced 31-man squad for the Pacific Nations Cup as the Brave Blossoms warm up to host the Rugby World Cup.

Prop Yusuke Kizu, lock James Moore and flanker Pieter Labuschagne could all debut against Fiji on July 27 from a squad that includes another 10 players with less than 10 test caps.

“We can’t win at the World Cup with the 2015 (team),” Joseph said on Wednesday in comments published by Kyodo News.

“We need a good balance and a good blend and I think that’s what we have selected.”

Japan will also play the United States and Tonga in the Pacific tournament.

Joseph has lost first-choice prop Koo Ji Won to injury, meaning Kizu is joined by Toyota Verblitz team mate Shogo Miura among Japan’s limited front row options.

The four props selected have only 35 caps between them.

“Unless we give them an opportunity to play, we won’t really know if they can play at a World Cup,” said Joseph.

There is plenty of experience in the backs, however, with the likes of Fumiaki Tanaka, Yu Tamura, Kotaro Matsushima and Kenki Fukuoka included.

Following the Pacific Nations Cup, the Brave Blossoms play South Africa on Sept. 6 in their final World Cup warmup.

Japan kick off the global showpiece against Russia in Tokyo on Sept. 20. (Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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