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Japan - Team profile

Exciting times off the field for Japanese rugby, principally because planning is already underway for the Brave Blossoms to host the 2019 edition of the RWC. On it there has been some progress - like winning the Asia Five Nations for a fourth year running and stunning Fiji in the final of this year's Pacific Nations Cup - but Japan still look short of depth.

With former All Black John Kirwan in charge they will certainly have some guile and they will look to winger Hirotoki Onozawa to lend some bite to the attack. However they will miss international record try-scorer Daisuke Ohata (67) who retired with a knee injury in January while a suspect hair tonic containing a banned substance -- apparently aimed at helping his moustache grow -- has ruled out fly-half Ryohei Yamanaka.

POOL MATCHES
v France 10/09, 6:00pm, Auckland
v Japan 16/09, 8:00pm, Hamilton
v Tonga 21/09, 7:30pm, Whangarei
v Canada 27/09, 5:00pm, Napier
All start times are New Zealand Standard Time - for your local time check the full schedule.

QUICK HITS
Nickname:The Cherry Blossoms
Colours: Red & White
Biggest rival: USA
Game to watch: Japan v Tonga, 21/09 in Whangarei

Did you know?
• Japan suffered a record 145-17 loss to New Zealand at the 1995 tournament.
• Japan scored nine tries against Zimbabwe in 1991 which is their only victory.
• Japan is the only team to have played in every tournament not to have a player sent off or receive a yellow card.
• Former wing Daisuke Ohata scored a record 69 tries in 58 tests.

JAPAN AT THE RUGBY WORLD CUP
Wins: 1
Losses: 18
Most caps: Masahiro Kunda (9), Yukio Motoki (9)
Top point scorer: Toru Kurihara (40)
Top try scorer: Eiji Kutsuki (4)
Most points in a game: Toru Kurihara (21) v USA in 2003

THE TEAM
Captain: Takashi Kikutani
Position: Flanker
Age: 31
RWC Test caps prior to 2011: 0
Honours: Has scored 18 tries in 33 games for Japan

Key player: Ryan Nicholas
Position: Centre
Age: 32
RWC Test caps prior to 2011: 0
Honours: Has scored 179 points in only 25 games for Japan

Coach: John Kirwin

RUGBY WORLD CUP SQUAD
Forwards: Hisateru Hirashima (Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers) Naoki Kawamata (Panasonic Wild Knights), Yusuke Aoki (Suntory Sungoliath), Shota Horie (Panasonic Wild Knights), Hiroki Yuhara (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory Sungoliath), Nozomu Fujita (Honda Heat), Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Toshizumi Kitagawa (Toyota Verblitz), Luke Thompson (Kintetsu Liners), Justin Ives (Panasonic Wild Knights), Takashi Kikutani (Toyota Verblitz), Michael Leitch (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Sione Vatuvei (Panasonic Wild Knights), Ryukoliniasi Holani (Panasonic Wild Knights), Itaru Taniguchi (Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers)

Backs: Fumiaki Tanaka (Panasonic Wild Knights), Tomoki Yoshida (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Atsushi Hiwasa (Suntory Sungoliath), James Arlidge (Nottingham), Murray Williams (Toyota Industries Shuttles), Yuta Imamura (Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers), Ryan Nicholas (Suntory Sungoliath), Koji Taira (Suntory Sungoliath), Alisi Tupuailai (Canon Eagles), Hirotoki Onozawa (Suntory Sungoliath), Kosuke Endo (Toyota Verblitz), Takehisa Usuzuki (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Shaun Webb (Coca-Cola West Red), Taihei Ueda (Honda Heat)

Special feature: All the colour from New Zealand
Photos: All Blacks world championsNew Zealand have fought off a brave French team to win the Rugby World Cup again after 24 long years.

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