Rugby-Japan rely on Australian engine room for Wallabies test


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Japan v South Africa - Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - October 20, 2019 Japan head coach Jamie Joseph during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan coach Jamie Joseph named two Australian-born locks and handed Brisbane-educated loose forward Ben Gunter his test debut in the side to face the Wallabies in Oita on Saturday.

The versatile Jack Cornelsen, the son of Wallaby Greg, will team up with James Moore in the second row in place of injured Wimpie Van Der Walt.

Former Australian schoolboys winger Dylan Riley could also make his first appearance for the Brave Blossoms from the bench.

Gunter's inclusion on the blindside flank means totemic former skipper Michael Leitch drops to the bench, while new captain Pieter "Lappies" Labuschagne and Kazuki Himeno round out the back row.

Rikiya Matsuda starts at flyhalf with Yu Tamura, who started the tests against a British and Irish Lions XV and Ireland earlier this year, dropping to the bench.

Semisi Masirewa moves to fullback with Lomano Lemeki coming into the side to replace him on the right wing. Timothy Lafaele and Ryoto Nakamura reprise their centre partnership, while Yutaka Nagare gets his first start since 2019 at scrumhalf.

Japan, who have have never beaten Australia, lost 28-10 to the Lions XV in June and 39-31 to Ireland in July.

Team: 15-Semisi Masirewa, 14-Lomano Lemeki, 13-Timothy Lafaele, 12-Ryoto Nakamura, 11-Siosaia Fifita, 10-Rikiya Matsuda, 9-Yutaka Nagare, 8-Kazuki Himeno, 7-Pieter Labuschagne (captain), 6-Ben Gunter, 5-James Moore, 4-Jack Cornelsen, 3-Koo Ji-won, 2-Atsushi Sakate, 1-Keita Inagaki

16-Yusuke Niwai, 17-Craig Millar, 18-Asaeli Ai Valu, 19-Michael Leitch, 20-Tevita Tatafu, 21-Naoto Saito, 22-Yu Tamura, 23-Dylan Riley.

(Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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