June International Tours

Marsh leads Japan into Pacific Nations

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Glen Marsh is the only uncapped player – and also the oldest at 34 – in the 30-man squad named by Japan coach John Kirwan for the IRB Pacific Nations Cup.

The twin brother of France international Tony, who will retire at the end of the current Top 14, Marsh is one of three New Zealanders in the squad to face Fiji – their Pool B opponents at Rugby World Cup 2007 – with second row Luke Thompson and fellow flanker Hare Makiri.

Wing Hirotoki Onozawa is the most capped player named by Kirwan with 32 caps, while at the opposite end of the scale from Marsh is another wing in Christian Loamanu, the youngest member of the squad having only turned 21 last weekend.

Kirwan selected his squad after two matches against the Classic All Blacks – encounters his Japanese side lost 35-26 and 36-6 – as he tries to secure a first ever victory in the expanded competition after Japan’s four losses in the inaugural event in 2006.

A World Cup winner with the All Blacks in 1987, Kirwan was under no illusions as to the importance of the Pacific Nations Cup to Japan or the potential of his new charges when Total Rugby Radio caught up with him last month.

“The Pacific Nations Cup is a great tournament for us and it’s important that the IRB keeps it going, because the way forward as far as growing nations is concerned is competition,” admitted Kirwan.

“Our real challenge is to compete in this competition, with the islanders first and then with the Australian and New Zealand sides.
“When I first took over five years ago in Italy I think the team was in worse shape than the one we have here. I think this team can improve huge amounts. They’re very consciencious, with a great work ethic, easy to coach so I’m really excited about the team.”

Japan travel to Lautoka to play Fiji on 26 May before two matches in Australia against Tonga in Coffs Harbour on 2 June and Australia A in Townsville a week later. They then host Samoa in Sendai on 16 June with the Junior All Blacks in Tokyo on 24 June.

Japan:

Forwards:
Masahito Yamamoto, Tatsukichi Nishiura, Yuji Matsubara, Mitsugu Yamamoto, Yusuki Aoki, Ryo Yamamura, Tomokazu Soma, Hitoshi Ono, Takanori Kumagae, Tsuyoshi Sato, Luke Thompson, Yasunori Watanabe, Hajime Kiso, Hare Makiri, Glen Marsh, Takamichi Sasaki, Takuro Miuchi

Backs: Koichi Ohigashi, Yuki Yatomi, Tomoki Yoshida, Eiji Ando, Kousei Ono, Hirotoki Onozawa, Shotaro Onishi, Bryce Robins, Yuta Imamura, Koji Taira, Kosuke Endo, Christian Loamanu, Goshi Tachikawa.

With thanks to the IRB

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