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Kirwan picks World Cup candidates

Kyodo News

Japan coach John Kirwan unveiled a provisional 41-man list for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand on Monday.

Kirwan will finalize his 30-man squad by Aug. 22 after the Asian Five Nations in April and the Pacific Nations Cup in July. The Rugby World Cup opens Sept. 9, with the final set for Oct. 23.

Japan has been grouped with the host, France, Tonga and Canada for the first round.

“We wanted a good balance between the experienced players who understand how we play and the young players who keep the enthusiasm up,” Kirwan said on the Japan Rugby Football Union website.

Included in the list were captain Takashi Kikutani, Hirotoki Onozawa from national championship winner Suntory Sungoliath and Sanyo Wild Knights’ Shota Horie, the Top League’s most valuable player.

Japan starts training in Miyazaki Prefecture on April 1 before facing Hong Kong on April 30 in its Five Nations opener.