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Japan ready to showcase their "world class speed"

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jrfu.org and James Mortimer     02 Nov 2013     Getty Images

Toshiaki Hirose will lead the Brave Blossoms from the wing as Japan takes on the world champions in their first official test outside a Rugby World Cup.

“I am really excited about the game and looking forward to showing the Japan Way to the world,” said Hirose.

Masataka Mikami, Shota Horie (who spent a season playing for Otago in New Zealand's ITM Cup) and Kensuke Hatakeyama form the front row with Shoji Ito and Hitoshi Ono behind them in the second row.

The New Zealand-born pair of Hendrik Tui and Michael Broadhurst are named at 6 and 7, respectively, while Ryu Koliniasi Holani is chosen at No. 8.

“In several positions it was very very tough doing the selection,” said Wisemantel. “For example at No. 8 picking Koli over Kiku at No. 8. We just felt Koli had had more game time – Kiku has played just three Top League games – and for that reason we will start with Koli. Though I am pretty sure Kiku will come on at some stage and make an impact.”

Fumiaki Tanaka, who is known by all the All Blacks following his season with the Dunedin-based Highlanders in Super Rugby, will line up at 9 alongside Harumichi Tatekawa, with Craig Wing and Male Sa'u in the centres.

Hirose, Kenki Fukuoka and Ayumu Goromaru form the back three, with Wisemantel saying he hoped Fukuoka would be able to show off his “world-class speed.”

In addition to Kikutani, a number of other veterans have been included on the bench.

Yusuke Aoki, Yusuke Nagae and Hitoshi Yamashita form the front-row cover, while Luke Thompson is the reserve lock.

Kosei Ono, Yu Tamura and Yoshikazu Fujita are the reserve backs with Ono covering 9 and 10, while Tamura can fill in at centre or flyhalf.

“We really want to see how good we are,” said Wisemantel. “We need to attack New Zealand with and without the ball. We are not going out there with a defeatist attitude and just compete. We want to go out to win the game.”