Joseph picks squad for first training camp

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Japan coach Jamie Joseph announced his 36-man squad for a mini-camp before they host Argentina in November.

The Brave Blossoms take on Argentina in Tokyo in November before playing three tests in Europe and the players will attend a mini-camp next week to allow Joseph and his staff to get to know them.

"We have 10 plus players unavailable for selection due to retirement or personal reasons so selection was based on giving new players who have been performing well in the Top League an opportunity to play at international level," Joseph told the official Japanese Rugby website.

"Working with young players who have the right skill sets and attitude to compete at this level is a pleasure and I can’t wait to meet and coach these guys."

The 36 include 15 players yet to represent their country at senior level, though a number of older hands – such as Hitoshi Ono, Kensuke Hatakeyama and Fumiaki Tanaka – are also included.

"With an amount of experience lost its important we balance the squad selection with some players who have yet to find their best form in Top League because we know they can perform at this level. Their experience will be crucial as all the games we play in November are a huge challenge, but this is how we will improve in the long term."

The absence of Michael Leitch and Hendrik Tui has opened the door for Shuhei Matsuhashi and Malgene Ilaua, while Yamaha Jubilo’s good start to the Top League season has resulted in call-ups for Heiichiro Ito, Takeshi Hino, Yuhimaru Mimura and Koki Yamamoto.

In the backs, Hikaru Tamura and Jumpei Ogura have both been rewarded for their good early season form, while Olympians Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Lomano Lava Lemeki and Kenki Fukuoka, and back-up member Yoshikazu Fujita are also included.

"The mini camps are about introducing ourselves as management and briefing the players on our game plan," Joseph said.

"The preparation time prior to the Argentinian test will be limited to 6 days so we have a lot of work to do leading up to the November tour. Secondly it will allow us time to discover and discuss who will lead the team from a player’s perspective.

"I will conduct a series of meetings and talks to establish the right relationships with the players so we can align ourselves quickly with leading the team. Alignment between the coaches and the players will be crucial if we want to perform to our potential."

Samuela Anise, Heiichiro Ito, Keita Inagaki, Malgene Ilaua, Kazuhiko Usami, Hitoshi Ono, Kyosuke Kajikawa, Takeshi Kizu, Naohiro Kotaki, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Shunsuke Nunomaki, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Takeshi Hino, Shota Horie, Shuhei Matsuhashi, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Masataka Mikami, Yuhimaru Mimura, Koki Yamamoto

Takahiro Ogawa, Jumpei Ogura, Kosei Ono, Male Sau, Yasutaka Sasakura, Harumichi Tatekawa, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hikaru Tamura, Yu Tamura, Kenki Fukuoka, Yoshikazu Fujita, Karne Hesketh, Tim Bennetts, Kotaro Matsushima, Yuki Yatomi, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Amanaki Lotoahea