NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND – Japan international Kensuke Hatakeyama came off the bench in the second half to make his debut in the English Premiership during the Newcastle Falcons’ 26-14 win over the Leicester Tigers on Friday.
The 30-year-old tighthead prop came on in the 65th minute and said he was glad to get his first taste of action as the Falcons lifted themselves from the foot of the table with their fifth straight home win in all competitions.
“It’s great that the team were able to win well,” said Hatakeyama, the first Japanese-born player to play in the Premiership since Kensuke Iwabuchi suited up for Saracens in 2000.
“I didn’t get much time but I was able to play and this is a great first step for me. First of all I will take each game as it comes and get myself properly prepared.”
Hatakeyama, who has won 72 caps for Japan and is the second highest test-match try scoring prop of all time with 10, signed with Newcastle on a short-term loan deal from Suntory Sungoliath.
He is scheduled to remain with the club until the end of the season, having turned down the chance to play for Japan’s new Super Rugby side the Sunwolves.
Former NEC Green Rockets captain Nili Latu was the standout performer for the Falcons, who toured Japan in 2005 and contain a number of players and coaches who have plied their trade in Japan.
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