• Kyodo

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Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru made his debut for Toulon in the French Top 14 on Sunday, coming off the bench in the 56th minute of his team’s 27-13 defeat away to Lyon.

Goromaru, who has been out of action since May after hurting his right shoulder playing for the Reds in Super Rugby, replaced Australian James O’Connor with his team 27-6 down.

He was not called on to take any shots at goal but kicked well to touch.

“I’m really pleased to have played a match in Toulon’s jersey,” said the 30-year-old, who was in coach Mike Ford’s match-day squad for the first time on Oct. 8 against La Rochelle but didn’t take the field.

“I wanted to focus on the jobs I could do, and I feel I’ve managed that. I could play without anxiety (about my shoulder),” Goromaru said. “I want to communicate well with the coach and players and will look to make as many appearances as possible.”

The match saw Goromaru play alongside such household names as New Zealand center Ma’a Nonu and South African wing Bryan Habana, and the first Japanese player in the Top 14 is eager to make the most of the opportunity, not just for himself but also for his countrymen in the future.

“The technique here in making contact is among the best in the world. I want to feel that in my bones and will try to step up a level before returning to Japan,” said Goromaru, who starred at last year’s Rugby World Cup in England for Eddie Jones’ Brave Blossoms.

“Those who do the basics well are the top players. I want to become a player who can perform under any circumstances.

“By someone (from Japan) playing here, hopefully it becomes something for others to aspire to.”

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