Kirwan hands armband to Ono
May 14, 2010
Hitoshi Ono will lead Japan against Kazakhstan © Getty Images
Japan head coach John Kirwan has handed the captain's armband to lock Hitoshi Ono for their Asian Five Nations showdown with Kazakhstan on Saturday.
Ono will lead the Brave Blossoms as they look to take the penultimate step towards Rugby World Cup qualification due to a two-week ban handed down to skipper Takashi Kikutani in the wake of last weekend's 60-5 win over the Arabian Gulf.
The Toshiba Brave Lupus second-row spearheads a side showing nine changes from their last outing. Masakazu Toyota switches from the flank to No. 8 and Touetsu Taufu is named at openside.
Shota Horie and Kensuke Hatakeyama return in the front-row while Fumiaki Tanaka and Shaun Webb are recalled at halfback. Goshi Tachikawa returns to the back-three at fullback.
"It was the obvious decision," Kirwan said of Ono's appointment. "He has the respect of the team and typifies the way we play. Everyone has had the chance to play in the first few games, some more than others. I am now picking the best team on form.
"The first two games were like the first games of the season. We have spoken about it and I expect tomorrow to be different. I am very serious about the next two games. They are very important to us."
The weekend's other game sees the Arabian Gulf take on Korea in Dubai.
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