Find out who Alun Wyn Jones & Co will be facing in the 1888 Cup


Japan team to play British & Irish Lions

Jamie Joseph has named a strong Japan team to take on British & Irish Lions at BT Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon.

Michael Leitch will captain Japan against the Lions 2021 squad in the pre-tour 1888 Cup fixture in Edinburgh.

He is one of ten players in the starting XV who also started against South Africa in the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final – Japan’s most recent international fixture given the disruption caused to the Test schedule by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Related: Japan coach Jamie Joseph on facing the Lions

Siosaia Fifita will make his Japan debut, lining up on the wing now that Kenki Fukuoka has retired, and there are three other possible debutants on the bench – Craig Millar, Jack Cornelson and Naoto Saito.

Joseph recognises that this will be a physical contest, with a strong set-piece focus, so has opted for a six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench.

Amongst those replacements is Kazuki Himeno, who played for the Highlanders in last weekend’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final. He would usually start at No 8 but after a long journey from New Zealand he is on the bench, with Joseph backing him to make an impact in the second half.

The match kicks off at 3pm on Saturday 26 June and will be televised live on Channel 4.

Japan team to play British & Irish Lions

Ryohei Yamanaka; Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Siosaia Fifita; Yu Tamura, Kaito Shigeno; Keita Inagaki, Atsushi Sakate, Ji-won Koo, Wimpie van der Walt, James Moore, Michael Leitch (captain), Lappies Labuschagne, Amanaki Mafi.

Replacements: Kosuke Horikoshi, Craig Millar, Asaeli Ai Valu, Jack Cornelsen, Kazuki Himeno, Tevita Tatafu, Naoto Saito, Rikiya Matsuda.

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