The World XV to take on Japan on Oct. 26 at Osaka’s Hanazono Rugby Stadium will be a star-studded affair, following the announcement Wednesday of a further nine players.
Australians Ben Alexander and Sam Carter and a plethora of South Africans led by former Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss will join two-time Rugby World Cup winner Ma’a Nonu of New Zealand in the side that will be coached by Robbie Deans and Scott Robertson.
“You are a long time retired,” said Alexander, who was first selected for test rugby by Deans in 2008, and who called time on his Super Rugby career this year after playing a record 154 games for the Canberra-based Brumbies.
“So when Robbie got in touch and offered me the chance to play against Japan. How good is that?”
Alexander will be joined in the World XV forward pack by Carter, who co-captained the Brumbies this year.
A second generation Wallaby, after his father David played five tests for Australia in 1988 and 1989, Carter has had a frustrating year marred by injury.
The game to mark the renewal of the iconic Hanazono ground will give him a chance to remind the Australian selectors what he has to offer one year out from the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Last year, Carter was part of a Deans and Robertson-coached Barbarians side that gave the All Blacks a run for their money before falling 31-22.
Strauss, who also has experience of playing under Deans as part of the World XV that beat Japan 47-27 in Fukuoka last year, will be joined by countrymen Willie Britz, Harold Vorster, Corne Fourie, Hencus van Wyk, Lionel Cronje and Jason Jenkins, all of whom apart from Fourie are currently playing in Japan’s Top League.
Earlier this week, Nonu said he was looking forward to returning to Japan, having spent the 2011-12 season here playing for Ricoh Black Rams.
“Japan is a great place to play,” he said. “And I’m really looking forward to getting back up there again. The crowds really get into the game. The excitement of the fans creates a great atmosphere.”
“It won’t be easy for us though. Japan is developing a really strong team. After beating South Africa (at the last Rugby World Cup), and drawing with France last year, they’ll back themselves against anyone.”
Further members will be added to the World XV squad over the coming days with the final line-up set to be confirmed on Oct. 21, dependent on club and provincial commitments.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5