Japan head coach Jamie Joseph on Monday named captain Michael Leitch, fullback/wing Kotaro Matsushima and No. 8 Kazuki Himeno among 36 players for a two-match European tour in June and July.
Having not played a game since their heroics at the 2019 Rugby World Cup on home soil, the Brave Blossoms will face the British and Irish Lions for the first time on June 26 in Edinburgh before playing Ireland in Dublin on July 3.
Japan shocked Ireland in its second pool game at the World Cup, coming away with a 19-12 win, as the Brave Blossoms went through the pool stage undefeated to reach the knockout stage for the first time.
Prop Keita Inagaki, flyhalf Yu Tamura, flanker Pieter Labuschagne and center Ryoto Nakamura were also selected as Joseph chose 19 players from the World Cup squad, citing the short preparation time and need for experience.
Joseph also picked 13 uncapped players, including 23-year-old scrum-half Naoto Saito, as he trimmed the squad from the original 54 candidates.
Japan will hold a training camp in southwestern Oita Prefecture before playing a practice game against the Sunwolves — who have reformed for this one game — at Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka Prefecture on June 12 ahead of the trip to Europe.
Matsushima, currently in France with Clermont, and Himeno, who plays for New Zealand Super Rugby side the Highlanders, will join the squad in Europe.
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