Japan gamble with rookie lock against Aust

Japan have included debutant lock Kazuki Himeno in their line-up as they bid for their first ever win over Australia in their Test match on Saturday.

Japan will blood rookie lock Kazuki Himeno in a bold move to upset Australia in their Test match at Yokohama's International Stadium on Saturday.

With injury forcing his hand, coach Jamie Joseph named Himeno, who only made his first senior appearance in the Japan side that faced Robbie Deans' World XV last Satuday, alongside Tongan-born Uwe Helu.

Joseph said he was looking forward to seeing what 23-year-old Himeno would bring.

"Himeno is a good player, a lock who can play for 80 minutes and show 100 per cent power in any position," Joseph said.

"I like his rugby and this time he will learn a lot by doing this experience."

Melbourne Rebels forward Amanaki Mafi, who won the Australian conference's Super Rugby Player of the Year, will don the number eight jersey, among seven players in the squad with World Cup experience.

Captain Michael Leitch will shift from eight to six to accommodate Mafi.

Meeting for the fifth time and the first time on home soil, Japan have named an experienced front row with Cup stalwarts, former Rebels hooker Shota Horie and prop Keita Inagaki, starting alongside Takuma Asahara.

World Cup star Kotaro Matsushima has been preferred at fullback with Harumichi Tatekawa returning from injury in the centres and veteran halfback Fumiaki Tanaka linking with Rikiya Matsuda in the halves.

With Sunwolves speedster Akihito Yamada out injured, Ryuji Noguchi has been shifted to the wing, while Olympic sevens player Lomano Lava Lemeki, will also get a start.

Tonga-born forwards Asaeli Ai Valu and Fetuani Lautaimi, as well as South African lock Wimpie van der Walt, could all make their Test debuts off the bench.

Japan: Kotaro Matsushima, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Timothy Lafaele, Harumichi Tatekawa, Ryuji Noguchi, Rikiya Matsuda, Fumiaki Tanaka, Amanaki Mafi, Shunsuke Nunomaki, Michael Leitch (c), Uwe Helu, Kazuki Himeno, Takuma Asahara, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki. Res: Atsushi Sakate, Koki Yamamoto, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Fetuani Lautaimi, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Sione Teaupa.

Source: AAP

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