• Kyodo


Ryuji Nakatake named his final side Thursday as Japan interim coach.

The Waseda University graduate will revert to his normal role as head coach of the Japan Under-20 side in June, before taking them to the World Rugby U20 Championship in England.

Nakatake has included a number of the junior team in the Brave Blossoms squad to take on Hong Kong in the team’s final game of the 2016 Asian Rugby Championship on Saturday at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

Tevita Tatafu, Doga Maeda and Ataata Moeakiola are all included in the starting XV, while under-20 captain Masato Furukawa, Faulua Makisi, Daiki Nakajima and Takuhei Yasuda are named on the bench.

The Brave Blossoms go into the game having scored 183 points and conceded just six in their three games to date. Just a single bonus point will hand them their second straight ARC title, and ninth since the format was changed to an annual tournament.

Following last week’s 60-3 victory over South Korea in Incheon, Nakatake has made five changes to his starting XV and one positional switch.

In the forwards, Kengo Kitagawa replaces Kanta Higashionna at loosehead prop, Kazuhiro Usami and Kotaro Yatabe swap roles with the former at lock and the latter on the bench, Hiroki Yamamoto moves from No. 8 to blindside flanker and Tatafu comes in at the back of the scrum with Furukawa dropping to the replacements.

In the backs, Moeakiola will start on the right wing in place of Yasuda and Ryuji Noguchi replaces Ryohei Yamanaka (who is in Australia with the Sunwolves) at fullback.

Keisuke Uchida once again leads the team, a number of whom will be hoping to be named Monday to the full Japan squad for the June tests against Canada and Scotland.

Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett will take over from Nakatake for the test in Vancouver and the two-game series against the Scots in Aichi Prefecture and Tokyo, before new head coach Jamie Joseph takes the reins in August.

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