Michael Leitch to captain experienced Japan side against the Lions

10 of the side that lost World Cup quarter-final will start at Murrayfield

Clermont winger  Kotaro Matsushima starts for Japan against the Lions on Saturday. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Clermont winger Kotaro Matsushima starts for Japan against the Lions on Saturday. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

Michael Leitch leads a Japan team that relies heavily on their 2019 World Cup stars for Saturday’s historic first match against the British and Irish Lions.

Leitch is one of 10 survivors from the 26-3 quarter-final defeat by South Africa who will start against the Lions at Murrayfield.

Clermont finisher Kotaro Matsushima is present on the right wing and there are four debutants in Siosaia Fifita, Craig Millar, Jack Cornelsen and Naoto Saito.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the fixture is Japan’s first international since being toppled by the Springboks in their debut appearance in the knockout phase of the World Cup.

They defeated Japanese club team the Sunwolves 32-17 in Shizuoka 10 days ago to aid their preparations for the Lions showdown.

Japan will travel to Dublin to take on Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, July 4th.

JAPAN: Ryohei Yamanaka; Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Siosaia Fifita; Yu Tamura, Kaito Shigeno; Keita Inagaki, Atsushi Sakate, Jiwon Koo; Wimpie van der Walt, James Moore; Michael Leitch (captain), Lappies Labuschagné, Amanaki Mafi.

Replacements: Kosuke Horikoshi, Craig Millar, Asaeli Ai Valu, Jack Cornelson, Kazuki Himeno, Tevita Tatafu, Naoto Saito, Rikiya Matsuda.

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