Flanker Michael Leitch on Thursday was named to captain Japan's first national team since the Brave Blossoms exited the 2019 Rugby World Cup in a quarterfinal loss to eventual world champions South Africa.

National team head coach Jamie Joseph named 13 veterans of Japan's World Cup team to start Saturday's game against the Sunwolves, Japan's defunct Super Rugby entry, at Shizuoka's Ecopa Stadium, the site of Japan's historic 2019 pool stage victory over Ireland.

Japan's rugby national team head coach Jamie Joseph is pictured during an online press conference on June 10, 2021. (Kyodo) 


The two non-World Cup members in the starting squad are flanker Naoki Ozawa and Japan debutant Gerhard van den Heever.

The Sunwolves were reorganized for this match so the Brave Blossoms can get a tuneup ahead of their summer European tests against the British and Irish Lions on June 26 in Edinburgh and against Ireland on July 3 in Dublin.

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