Kirwan names Japan World Cup squad
August 11, 2007

Japan coach John Kirwan named his 30-man Rugby World Cup squad on Saturday, a day after the team bid farewell to Japanese rugby fans with a 69-10 win over the Asian Barbarians.

Led by No. 8, Takuro Miuchi, the squad contains 16 forwards and 14 backs, together with six back-up players.

"We have a big responsibility for Asia, and a big responsibility for Japan," Kirwan said in announcing the squad.

"Japan carries the dreams and hopes of a nation for whom rugby is about to explode. We need a great World Cup and we need the players to be great. If we can do that then we can rejoice in the success it can bring everyone."

With Glen Marsh ruled ineligible, Takamichi Sasaki fills one of the six back-row slots.

The pack contains three New Zealand born players in Luke Thompson, Phil O'Reilly and Hare Makiri, while the Japanese naturalized Luatangi Samurai Vatuvei is also included.

Daisuke Ohata proved on Friday night that he had made a full recovery form the Achilles injury he picked up in January, and the flying wing was joined in the backs by Hirotoki Onozawa - the only other three-quarter to have featured in the 2003 World Cup.

James Arlidge will remain in Japan to carry on his rehabilitation for the leg he fractured in May, but will join up with the squad as a back-up player at the beginning of September.

"Our strengths are our agility, strength and intelligence," Kirwan said.

"The World Cup is the best of the best. We must eliminate our errors and enforce our game plan on the opposition. If we can do that, then teams will find it very difficult to play against us."

Following the announcement, the players and staff attended a lavish farewell at a Tokyo hotel, which gave fans, families and sponsors a chance to wish the team well.

Kirwan reminded his team that they "were living a sportsman's dream by appearing in the World Cup," and told his players that they carried the hopes of a nation on their shoulders.

The team leaves Japan on Aug. 12, and will play Italy on Aug. 18, and Portugal a week later, before heading to its base camp in Toulouse on Sept. 2.

Japan's World Cup squad:

Forwards: Ryo Yamamura (Yamaha Motor), Masahito Yamamoto (Toyota Motor), Tomokazu Soma (Sanyo), Tatsukichi Nishiura (Coca Cola), Yuji Matsubara (Kobe Steel), Mitsugu Yamamoto (Sanyo), Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba), Takanori Kumagae (NEC), Luatangi Vatuvei (Kintetsu/TGA), Luke Thompson (Kintetsu/NZL), Takuro Miuchi (NEC, capt), Yasunori Watanabe (Toshiba), Hajime Kiso (Yamaha Motor), Hare Makiri (Fukuoka/NZL), Philip O'Reilly (Sanyo/NZL), Takamichi Sasaki (Suntory).

Backs: Yuki Yatomi (Yamaha Motor), Tomoki Yoshida (Toshiba), Eiji Ando (NEC), Kousei Ono (Fukuoka), Shotaro Onishi (Yamaha Motor), Nataniela Oto (Toshiba/TGA), Yuta Imamura (Kobe Steel), Koji Taira (Suntory), Bryce Robins (Ricoh/NZL), Daisuke Ohata (Kobe Steel), Hirotoki Onozawa (Suntory), Kosuke Endo (Toyota Motor), Christian Loamanu (Saitama Institute of Technology/TGA), Go Aruga (Suntory).

Back up players: Takahiro Sugiura (Fukuoka Sanix), Yuta Inose (NEC), Taku Inokuchi (Toshiba), Ryota Asano (NEC), Kim Chul-Won (Kintetsu/KOR), James Arlidge (NTT/NZL).

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