Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rugby Test: Kazakhs take on Japan

Japan v Kazakhstan in Osaka (Asia5Nations)

Curiously Tokyo does not host a major test match in the first part of the season. The Pacific Nations Cup, usually played on a home-away basis, will this year be played in one venue, Fiji. All the Asia5Nations home games for Japan will be played in Osaka. That won't be on the Japanese team minds though as they prepare for the visiting Kazakhstanis.

Kazakhstan lost 6-82 in their 2008 clash with Japan at home. They will find playing away even more difficult. They travel without two of their star backs; Luke O'Callaghan (Bective Rangers, Ireland) and the massive boot of Maxim Lifantov, both injured. Their strength lies in their forward pack.

John Kirwan is in charge of the Japanese team again in 2009. For this tournament he has introduced a few new players. There are enough of the 'old heads' around to give this side plenty of solidity and speed which, I'm afraid, will be just too much for the visitors.

Previous Encounters
10.05.2008 Japan 82-6 in Almaty (Asia5Nations)
10.12.1998 Japan XV 118-3 in Bangkok (Asia Games, Sec.2)

Kazakhstan's introduction to world rugby in 1998 was in the hands of a rampaging Japanese side in Bangkok. More of the same today?

GWC Rugby Rankings: Asia Table-Japan 1st, Kazakhstan 4th

Prediction: Japan by 90 points


Loose head props
Hisateru Hirashima (Kobe) Age 26, 2 tests
Naoki Kawamata (Sanyo) 23, 1

Yusuke Aoki (Suntory) 25, 12
Yoshimitsu Yasue (IBM/Kobe) 24, New Cap
Tateo Kanai (Suntory) 24, New Cap

Tight head props
Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory) 23, 2
Hiroshi Yamashita (Kobe) 23, New Cap
Shinsuke Nakamura (Nihon University) 21 New Cap

Lock Forwards
Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba) 30, 30
Luke Thompson (Kintetsu) 27, 13
Toshizumi Kitagawa (Toyota) 27, 17
Yuji Kitagawa (Kanto Gakuin University) 22, 1

Flank Forwards
Takashi Kukutani, (Capt.) (Toyota) 29, 18
Phillip O’Reilly (Sanyo) 28, 8
Yoshitaka Nakayama (Toyota) 26, 6
Michael Leitch (Tokai University) 20, 2

Touetsu Taufa (Kintetsu) 28, New Cap

Tomoki Yoshida (Toshiba) 27, 15
Yuki Yatomi (Yamaha) 24, 9
Fumiaki Tanaka (Sanyo) 24, 8

Shaun Webb (World/Coca-Cola) 27, 9
Tatsuhiko Otao (Yamaha) 27, 1

Centre Three-quarters
Bryce Robins (NEC) 28, 21
Yuta Imamura (Kobe) 24, 20
Koji Taira (Suntory) 26, 11
Ryan Nicholas (Suntory) 29, 9

Wing Three-quarters
Hirotoki Onozawa (Suntory) 30, 47
Jack Tarrant (Mitsubishi Sagamihara) 29, New Cap

Hiroki Yoshida (Toshiba) 27, 4
Kaoru Matsushita (Yamaha) 25, 2
Ayumu Goromaru (Yamaha) 23, 4

Thanks to Ian McDonnell, RiJ.

Team not available.

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