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Japan names most of team that lost to France

Updated: September 19, 2011, 04:15


PAIHIA, New Zealand(AP) Japan restored most of the team which pushed France in its Rugby World Cup opener and made only two changes for the Pool A clash against Tonga on Wednesday.

Outside center Alisi Tupuailai replaced Koji Taira and Itaru Taniguchi came in at blindside flanker for Ryukoliniasi Holani, with captain Takashi Kikutani moving from No. 6 to No. 8 in the squad announced on Monday.

"We watched them on film, but they play a real simple game. We've figured out their strengths as well as their weaknesses,'' Taniguchi said. "We're not just going to try to stop them, we're going to hit back. My guess is that they think Japanese players will sit there and take it, so imagine how surprised they might be if we took it right to them.''

Japan closed to within four points of France before losing 47-21 on Sept. 10. Coach John Kirwan then made 10 changes to the team which lost 83-7 to New Zealand last Friday, sacrificing the match to save his best players to take on Tonga in Whangarei then Canada on Sept. 27.

"After the pressure the All Blacks put us under, we've got absolutely nothing to be afraid of,'' Taniguchi said. "While the Tongans are a good side, they're nowhere near the level of the All Blacks.''

Tonga lost 41-10 to New Zealand and then went down 25-20 to Canada.

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Japan: Shaun Webb, Kosuke Endo, Alisi Tupuailai, Ryan Nicholas, Hirotoki Onozawa, James Arlidge, Fumiaki Tanaka; Takashi Kikutani (captain), Michael Leitch, Itaru Taniguchi, Toshizumi Kitagawa, Luke Thompson, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Shota Horie, Hisateru Hirashima. Replacements: Yusuke Aoki, Nozomu Fujita, Hitoshi Ono, Sione Talikavili Vatuvei, Atsushi Hiwasa, Takehisa Usuzuki, Murray Williams.

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