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Japan names provisional men’s rugby sevens squad for Rio Olympics

Kyodo

Japan men’s sevens coach Tomohiro Segawa named his provisional squad for the Rio Olympics on Friday.

Akihito Yamada, Kenki Fukuoka and Yoshikazu Fujita — all members of the Brave Blossoms squad at Rugby World Cup 2015 — were among the 19 named.

A further two players — Jamie Henry and Amanaki Lotoahea — will also train and play with the squad in the hope their Japanese passports come through before the Rio tournament starts on Aug. 9.

“Our target is to get a medal and create new Japan sevens history,” Segawa said.

Yamada and Lotoahea’s inclusion was something of a surprise as the pair have also been named in the Sunwolves’ squad and as such are likely to find it difficult combining Super Rugby with the abbreviated form.

Japan captain Michael Leitch was not named in the squad for that very reason.

“Leitch prefers Super Rugby and is hoping to play in the Super Rugby final in August with the Chiefs, so has not been included,” Segawa said.

Chihito Matsui, Yusaku Kuwazuru and Ryuta Yasui are the other three full internationals to make the squad, while sevens regulars such as Lote Tuqiri, Lomano Lemeki, Katsuyuki Sakai and Kazuhiro Goya are all named.

Segawa and his players will assemble for their first camp on Jan. 18 and will play as a wild card in the Sevens World Series events in Wellington, Sydney and Las Vegas.

Japan will then try to regain core-team status on the circuit at the qualifying tournament in Hong Kong in April before it takes part in the Singapore Sevens later that month.