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Kubota Spears flanker Pieter Labuschagne will captain the side for the international fixtures, which will kick off against Dave Rennie’s men at Showa Denko Dome in Oita on October 23.
This was confirmed at the start of the month, with Labuschagne replacing Michael Leitch, who retains his spot in the squad.
“Michael Leitch has been a great captain for this team. There is such a heavy workload as Captain and after having played in three World Cups, and the amount of rugby he has played for Japan, we want him to be in a position to focus purely on his rugby and give him a break from the responsibility of leading the team,” Brave Blossoms Head Coach, Jamie Joseph said
“Lappies captained the side in 2019 and did an awesome job. He’s a natural leader, confident in how he deals with referees, he knows the game very well and leads by the way he plays. The support from Ryoto Nakamura is going to be crucial. There is already great balance between these guys and the wider leadership group. Ryoto has gone from strength to strength since I’ve been coaching Japan and his leadership is very apparent at Suntory.”
Suntory Sungoliath utility back Ryoto Nakamura has been named vice captain, with the 30-year-old establishing himself as a mainstay of the side.
Australian-born trio Ben Gunter, Jack Cornelsen and Dylan Riley retain their spot in the squad after it was trimmed down from a 44-player training group last month.
They are joined by Highlanders number eight Kazuki Himeno, who was named Super Rugby Aoteatoa Rookie of the Year after a breakout season for the club.
Japan will head to Europe after their match with the Wallabies, facing off against Ireland on Nov. 6, Portugal on Nov. 13 and Scotland on Nov. 20.
Japan squad to face Wallabies, Autumn Tour
Props: Shunsuke Asaoka, Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Ai Valu, Shinnosuke Kakinaga, Jiwon Gu, Isileli Nakajima, Craig Millar
Hookers: Atsushi Sakate, Yusuke Niwai, Kosuke Horikoshi
Locks: Daichi Akiyama, James Moore, Liaki Moli
Flankers: Ben Gunter, Jack Cornelsen, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Ryota Hasegawa, Pieter Labuschagne (c), Michael Leitch
No 8s: Tevita Tatafu, Kazuki Himeno, Shota Fukui
Halfbacks: Naoto Saito, Kaito Shigeno, Yutaka Nagare
Australia begins its late season tour with a match against Japan at the Shona Denko Dome today (3.45pm AEDT) — a stadium with recent bad memories for the Wallabies.
It was the venue where their 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign ended, beaten 40-16 in the quarterfinals by eventual runners-up England.
Australia will go into the match as favorites this time, though.
In in six matches since 1975, Japan has never beaten the Wallabies.
“We’ve got a huge amount of respect for the Brave Blossoms who are now competitive with the best sides in the world,” Rennie said.
“We’ll need to be at our best.”
Following the match with Japan, the Wallabies head to Britain for Tests against Scotland, England and Wales on consecutive weekends.
Samu Kerevi has been ruled out of Australia’s side for the Japan match and will be replaced by Hunter Paisami in one of four changes to the Wallabies’ starting XV.
Kerevi was instrumental in Australia’s four game winning streak in the Rugby Championship that featured back-to-back victories over world champions South Africa and two against Argentina.
He injured his ankle in Australia’s most recent win over the Pumas and was in doubt for the Test against Japan, the first of four on the squad’s northern hemisphere tour.
The strong midfield presence of the Japan-based Kerevi and his combination with flyhalf Quade Cooper was influential in turning around the Wallabies’ fortunes following three straight losses to the All Blacks.
“While it’s disappointing for Samu not to be able to play in Japan, Hunter started the first five Tests this year and is chomping at the bit for another opportunity,” Rennie said.
Among the other changes to the starting lineup are Matt Philip returning at lock to partner Izack Rodda, Rob Leota on the blindside flank to join a backrow with captain Michael Hooper and No.8 Rob Valetini, and Tom Wright returning on the wing.
Japan-based Cooper will start again at No.10, forming an experienced halves combination with Nic White, while Paisami will join Len Ikitau in a young centre combination.
For the home side, Jack Cornelsen carries one of the most famous surnames in Australian rugby but will make his Test debut for Japan.
Cornelsen, son of Wallabies hall of famer Greg Cornelsen, has been named to start at lock in the Japan lineup by coach Jamie Joseph.
After being overlooked for a Super Rugby contract in Queensland, Cornelsen’s career was revived when he joined the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan under former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
He will make his Test debut alongside fellow Australian and Wild Knights teammate Ben Gunter who has been named at blindside flanker.
Cornelsen qualified to play for Japan after completing three continuous years of residency there.
He said he hadn’t imagined as a young player that when he made his first Test appearance it would be against Australia.
“Growing up it wasn’t the path I imagined that I’d have taken but how quickly things can change,” Cornelsen said.
“I’m obviously really grateful for the position I’m in now.”
South Africa-born Lappies Labuschagne will captain Japan from flanker while Michael Leitch, captain at the 2019 World Cup, will start on the bench.
Joseph said Leitch needs time “to focus purely on his rugby” and relieving him of the captaincy will “give him a break from the responsibility of leading the team.