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Juniors favoured for clean sweep

Sportal.co.nz     23 Jun 2007    

The Japanese should not present too much of a problem for the New Zealand combination as they have only had one win in the competition, 20-17 over Tonga, while they were beaten 71-10 by the Australia A team which went down by 50 points to New Zealand last week.

Injury concerns have also made selection of the Japanese team difficult for Japan coach, former All Black John Kirwan.

The Japanese plan against the competition frontrunners will be to throw everything at them.

"Of course we feel some pressure and have changed some players, but I feel there should'nt be many problems as we have been training hard," he told Planet-rugby.com

"Ultimately, I would like to see the best performance from all of the players, as it is a great opportunity for them ahead of the World Cup.

"For the Samoan and Tongan matches, the aim of our game plan was to attack their strength.

"As for our defence, the players will have to be patient and react to what they are facing," he said.

The Juniors side has eight changes to that which tied up the competition against Australia A.

The Canterbury front row of hooker Corey Flynn and props Wyatt Crockett and Campbell Johnstone have been included while flanker Daniel Braid will captain the side, having taken Marty Holah's place.

Jimmy Cowan returns to halfback, while Stephen Brett will be at first five-eighths, Tane Tu’ipulotu is outside him while Rudi Wulf is on the wing with Scott Hamilton moving back to fullback.

Coach Colin Cooper is expecting Japan to lift its performance in front of its home crowd.

"They put on a spirited performance when we played them in Dunedin last year and I am sure they will be determined to do well.

"We have a pool of exceptional athletes and we all benefited from that again this year when Junior All Blacks made the transition to the All Blacks when required.

"At the same time, we feel we have helped with the game's development, particularly in the Pacific Island," he said.

The teams are:

Japan: 1 - Masahito Yamamoto, 2 - Yuji Matsubara, 3 - Tomokazu Soma, 4 - Hitoshi Ono, 5 - Luke Thompson, 6 - Yasumori Watanabe, 7 - Glen Marsh, 8 - Hare Makiri, 9 - Yuki Yatomi, 10 - Eiji Ando, 11 - Hirotoki Onozawa, 12 - Shotaro Onishi, 13 - Yuta Imamura, 14 - Christian Loamanu, 15 - Bryce Robins.

Reserves: 16 - Yusuke Aoki, 17 - Ryo Yamamura, 18 - Takanori Kumagae, 19 - Takamichi Sasaki, 20 - Koichi Ohigashi, 21 - Kousei Ono, 22 - Go Aruga.

Junior All Blacks: 1 - Wyatt Crockett, 2 - Corey Flynn, 3 - Campbell Johnstone, 4 - Hoani MacDonald, 5 - Tom Donnelly, 6 - Jerome Kaino, 7 - Daniel Braid (captain), 8 - Sione Lauaki, 9 - Jimmy Cowan, 10 - Stephen Brett, 11 - Anthony Tuitavake, 12 - Tane Tu'ipulotu, 13 - Ma'a Nonu, 14 - Rudi Wulf, 15 - Scott Hamilton.

Reserves: 16 - Derren Witcombe, 17 - John Afoa, 18 - Kieran Read, 19 - Mose Tuiali'I, 20 - Andrew Ellis, 21 - Stephen Donald, 22 - Sam Tuitupou.

Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)