Japan v United Arab Emirates in Dubai (WCQ Asia; Asia 5 Nations)
[Dubai, UAE, May 9 2013]: With the HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) Top 5 title assured for a sixth straight year, Japan coach Eddie Jones opted for a curious mix of the old and the new for Friday's test with the United Arab Emirates, Japan's final game in this year's tournament.
Just three players who started in last week's win over South Korea in Tokyo keep their places in the starting line-up as Jones looks to give every member of his squad some playing time.
“We've won the Asian 5 Nations and achieved our first goal,” said Jones. “So we are using this game as preparation for the Pacific Nations Cup. It's an opportunity for some guys to cement their place in the squad.”
There are six changes in the pack with just Michael Broadhust and Takashi Kikutani keeping their places, though Kikutani once again is involved in a positional switch.
The 33 year old – who will lead the side in the continued absence of Toshiaki Hirose – moves from flanker to No. 8 allowing Hendrik Tui to return on the side of the scrum.
Ahead of them there is a brand new front five with Masataka Mikami and Hiroshi Yamashita propping down either side of Takeshi Kizu, and Shoji Ito joining up with Shinya Makabe in the second row.
Keisuke Uchida is rewarded for his hard work at training with a start at scrum half, where the University of Tsukuba student will partner Yu Tamura.
The one new cap in the starting XV is at inside centre with former Australia rugby league star Craig Wing set to make his debut for his adopted country. Wing will be partnered by Seiichi Shimomura, who returns to the international fold to win his fourth cap.
Yoshikazu Fujita, who scored six tries in the corresponding fixture last year, is the third player to be retained from last week and the Waseda University student will be joined by Yuta Imamura on the wing, with veteran Hirotoki Onozawa returning from injury to win his 78th cap, one shy of Yukio Motoki's record number of appearances for the Brave Blossoms.
"We wanted to give (Ayumu) Goromaru a rest and Onozawa was the next best person in that position," said Jones.
In addition to Wing, flanker Ryuta Yasui and fly half/centre Ryota Nakamura are also in line to win their first caps if they come off the bench.
“The first half was probably as good as we have ever played,” Jones said of last week's victory over South Korea.
“There were some individual errors in the second half and a lack of flow and we weren't as clinical as we could have been, but overall I was pretty pleased with the result.”
1. Graham MURPHY 2. Oliver DELAPP 3. Brett BOWIE 4. Anthony MURPHY 5. Eddy TALBOT 6. Renier ELS (Capt) 7. David KNIGHT 8. Brett WILLIAMS 9. Gareth ARMSTRONG 10. James HAM 11. Cyrus HOYAMNOUN 12. Christopher BURCH 13. Harry WOODS 14. Jono BESTER 15. Steve SMITH 16. Jonathan GREENWOOD 17. Christopher JONES-GRIFFITHS 18. Daniel BOATWRIGHT 19. David MATASIO 20. George PERKINS 21. Antoine BERTHEUIL 22. Malcolm GREENSLADE 23. Sean HURLEY
1. Masataka MIKAMI 2. Takeshi KIZU 3. Hiroshi YAMASHITA 4. Shoji ITO 5. Shinya MAKABE 6. Hendrik TUI 7. Michael BROADHURST 8.Takashi KIKUTANI 9. Keisuke UCHIDA 10. Yuu TAMURA 11. Yuta IMAMUURA 12. Craig WING 13. Seiichi SHIMOMURA 14. Yoshikazu FUJITA (Capt) 15. Hirotoki ONOZAWA 16. Yusuke AOKI 17. Takuma ASAHARA 18. Kensuke HATAKEYAMA 19. Hitoshi ONO 20. Ryuta YASUI 21. Atsushi HIWASA 22. Ryoto NAKAMURA 23. Harumichi TATEKAWA
Prediction: UAE will be doing well to help Japan to under 100 points.
Japan by 95 points.