Read the full story on SportsLook - Rugby World Cup Roster for Brave Blossoms Now Unveiled
Nearly half of the 30 players named to Japan's 2023 Rugby World Cup squad on Tuesday, August 15 were listed on the Brave Blossoms roster four years ago for the sport's biggest tournament.
Head coach Jamie Joseph announced the team's roster at a news conference in Tokyo. And a send-off event was also held on the same day for the Brave Blossoms in the nation's capital.
Up next: The Brave Blossoms will fly to Italy for an August 26 tuneup match in Treviso against the Italian national team.
Joseph is set to name three more players to the roster before the August 21 deadline. Injury concerns factored into his decision to hold off on naming the full squad.
Of the 30 Brave Blossoms players whose names were announced on Tuesday, 13 return from Japan's 2019 Rugby World Cup squad. Among them are former captain Michael Leitch, hooker Shota Horie, outside back Kotaro Matsushima and prop Keita Inagaki.
Horie and Leitch are both set to appear in their fourth World Cup. Leitch is the most-capped player (79 official international matches) on the squad.
A Large Number of Rugby World Cup Debutants
For Japan, 17 players are set to make their World Cup debuts four years after the Brave Blossoms thrilled the nation by advancing to the tournament quarterfinals on home soil.
Japan's tourney newcomers will compete alongside No 8 Kazuki Himeno, the team captain, and other World Cup returnees, including prop Asaeli Ai Valu, hooker Atsushi Sakate, lock James Moore, flyhalf Rikiya Matsuda, inside center Ryoto Nakamura and wing back Lomano Lava Lemeki.
Building on its success from 2019, Japan is determined to advance past the quarterfinals at the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
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Author: Ed Odeven