By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – Experienced winger Akihito Yamada returns to the Japan team to face England at Twickenham on Saturday as one of eight changes from the side beaten by New Zealand two weeks ago.
Yamada, 33, one of the survivors of the 2015 World Cup upset win over South Africa, missed the 69-31 defeat by the All Blacks but comes back on the right wing, with Kenki Fukuoka on the left.
William Tupou moves from outside centre to fullback while Timothy Lafaele switches from 12 to 13 in a new midfield partnership with Ryoto Nakamura.
There was no place in the match squad for winger Jamie Henry, who scored a great try on his debut against the All Blacks.
Up front captain Michael Leitch is on the blindside flank alongside Kazuki Himeno and Masakatsu Nishikawa.
Coach Jamie Joseph recognised the magnitude of the challenge facing his team but said he still had confidence that they could trouble England on their first visit to Twickenham.
“We’re going to have to take what comes at us and throw something back,” said the former All Black flanker.
“I think some of our players are up to it mentally and physically. We do have smaller men and we do play the game differently because of that so we try to keep the game quick.
“This week has been really good, the guys’ mindset, they’re very aware of what’s coming on the weekend.”
England coach Eddie Jones earlier named a team showing 11 changes, with half an eye on next week’s game against Australia, while Japan too are likely to consider their upcoming match against Russia in Gloucester as the key game of their tour as it is a dry run for the opening fixture of the 2019 World Cup.
15-Willam Tupou, 14-Akihito Yamada, 13-Timothy Lafaele, 12-Ryoto Nakamura, 11-Kenki Fukuoka, 10-Yu Tamura, 9-Fumiaki Tanaka, 8-Kazuki Himeno, 7-Masakatsu Nishikawa, 6-Michael Leitch (captain), 5-Uwe Helu, 4-Wimpie van der Walt, 3-Jiwon Koo, 2-Atsushi Sakate, 1-Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16-Yusuke Niwai, 17-Koki Yamamoto, 18-Asaeli Ai Valu, 19-Samuela Anise, 20-Hendrik Tui, 21-Shunsuke Nunomaki, 22-Yutaka Nagare, 23-Rikiya Matsuda.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis)