Kirwan shows his hand
September 7, 2011
Japan boss John Kirwan, a true All Black legend, is a major draw in New Zealand © Getty Images
Japan boss John Kirwan has unveiled his side for Saturday's Rugby World Cup Pool A clash with France at the North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.
There are just two survivors from the back-line which faced the United States in Tokyo last month, with Ryan Nicholas retaining his place at inside centre and Hirotoki holding on to the No.11 jersey. Shaun Webb returns at fullback, Koji Taira joins Nicholas in midfield, while Kosuke Endo is recalled on the right wing. Meanwhile, James Arlidge takes over at ten from Murray Williams, who drops to the bench, and the former Dragons playmaker will be joined in the half-backs by Fumiaki Tanaka.
It's a similar story in the pack, with Kirwan only retaining two players who started against the Americans: Luke Thompson, who has been paired with Toshizumi Kitagawa in the second-row, and captain Takashi Kikutani, who switches from No.8 to blindside flanker to accommodate Ryukoliniasi Holani.
Elsewhere, Hisateru Hirashima, Shota Horie, Kensuke Hatakeyama form a new front-row, while Michael Leitch gets the nod on the openside.
Japan: Shaun Webb; Kosuke Endo, Koji Taira, Ryan Nicholas, Hirotoki Onozawa; James Arlidge, Fumiaki Tanaka; Hisateru Hirashima, Shota Horie, Kensuke Hatakeyama; Luke Thompson, Toshizumi Kitagawa; Takashi Kikutani (capt), Michael Leitch, Ryukoliniasi Holani.
Replacements: Yusuke Aoki, Nozomu Fujita, Hitoshi Ono, Itaru Taniguchi, Atsushi Hiwasa, Murray Williams, Alisi Tupuailai.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape