Rugby World Cup
Japan call on experience for World Cup opener against South Africa
ESPN Staff
September 17, 2015
Will South Africa dominate Pool B?

Japan head coach Eddie Jones has called on experience and named the eldest Brave Blossoms side in their Test history for the World Cup opener with South Africa.

Jones has made five changes to the side that beat Georgia in Gloucester a fortnight ago. Akihito Yamada is named on the wing instead of Yoshikazu Fujita, while Hendrik Tui moves from the wing to number eight.

Kosei Ono starts at fly-half at the expense of Harumichi Tatekawa, who has been named on the bench. Kensuke Hatakeyama comes in for Hiroshi Yamashita, who is named as a replacement.

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Tui's move to number eight means Koliniashi Holani misses out on the matchday squad altogether. Holani was brought off with slight concussion in Japan's 13-10 Test win against the Lelos at Kingsholm.

The starting XV contains 574 caps and has an average age of 29 years 310 days, making it Japan's eldest starting XV in their Test history. It is also Japan's most experienced World Cup side, having amassed 465 tournament appearances between them.

Hitoshi Ono, Japan's most capped Test player, will earn his 95th cap against the Springboks in Brighton.

Japan team to face South Africa: Ayumu Goromaru, Akihito Yamada, Male Sa'u, Craig Wing, Kotaro Matsushima, Kosei Ono, Fumiaki Tanaka, Masataka Mikami, Shota Horie, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Luke Thompson, Hitoshi Ono, Michael Leitch (captain), Michael Broadhurst, Hendrik Tui. 

Replacements: Takeshi Kizu, Keita Inagaki, Hiroshi Yamashita, Shinya Makabe, Amanaki Mafi, Atsushi Hiwasa, Harumichi Tatekawa, Karne Hesketh.

© ESPN Staff

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