AP – Former NRL star Craig Wing will make his Rugby World Cup debut in Japan’s crunch Pool B clash against the United States on Sunday.
Coach Eddie Jones has picked the former NSW State of Origin representative at centre for the match which could potentially decide who advances to the quarter-finals.
The 35-year-old will become the oldest Japan player to make his World Cup debut when he runs out against the Eagles.
The former South Sydney and Sydney Roosters utility will be one of two players to make their World Cup debuts for the Cherry Blossoms along with winger Yoshikazu Fujita.
Japan can qualify for the knockout stage if they beat the US and results run their way.
If Scotland loses to Samoa, or even draws that match without a bonus point on Saturday, then Japan could jump over the Scots for the pool’s second quarter-final spot with a win.
There were four changes in total from the team that beat Samoa 26-5 last weekend in Milton Keynes. Tighthead prop Hiroshi Yamashita replaces the more experienced Kensuke Hatakeyama, who drops to the reserves, and Justin Ives is at lock for Hitoshi Ono, who became Japan’s oldest ever international at 37 against Samoa.
Japan has yet to field third-choice hooker Hiroki Yuhara and winger Toshiaki Hirose, while captain Michael Leitch and fullback Ayumu Goromaru are the only two Japan players to have played all 240 minutes so far.
The US made 13 changes following their 64-0 loss to South Africa.
The team resembles that which lost to Scotland 39-16 nearly two weeks ago, after leading 13-6 at halftime.
United States: Chris Wyles (captain), Takudzwa Ngwenya, Seamus Kelly, Thretton Palamo, Zach Test, AJ MacGinty, Mike Petri; Samu Manoa, Andrew Durutalo, Al McFarland, Greg Peterson, Hayden Smith, Titi Lamositele, Zach Fenoglio, Eric Fry. Reserves: Phil Thiel, Oli Kilifi, Chris Baumann, Cam Dolan, John Quill, Danny Barrett, Niku Kruger, Folau Niua.
Japan: Ayumu Goromaru, Yoshikazu Fujita, Harumichi Tatekawa, Craig Wing, Kotaro Matsushima, Kosei Ono, Fumiaki Tanaka; Ryu Koliniasi Holani, Michael Broadhurst, Michael Leitch (captain), Justin Ives, Luke Thompson, Hiroshi Yamashita, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki. Reserves: Takeshi Kizu, Masataka Mikami, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Shinya Makabe, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Hendrik Tui, Atsushi Hiwasa, Karne Hesketh.