Jamie Joseph marked a new era in Japanese rugby on Monday, naming his first Brave Blossoms squad for November tests against Argentina, Georgia, Wales and Fiji.
Yamaha accounted for a large part of the squad, with four forwards called up by Joseph after their impressive start to the Top League this season. Ricoh's Shuhei Matsuhashi, Honda Heat and Japan 7s star Mano Lemeki and Toshiba youngster Malgene Ilau are among the 16 players to receive their first call-ups.
Michael Leitch and Hendrik Tui were notable omissions from the Japan squad, with the duo having played non-stop rugby since last year's World Cup in two Top League seasons sandwiched either side of the 2016 Super Rugby campaign. Ayumu Goromaru is still regaining fitness at new club Toulon and was not an option for Joseph this time round.
Joseph said: Ricoh's Shuhei Matsuhashi, Honda Heat and Japan 7s star Mano Lemeki and Toshiba youngster Malgene Ilau are among the 16 players to receive their first call-ups.
Joseph: "We have 10+ players unavailable for selection due to retirement or personal reasons so selection was based on giving new players who have been performing well in the Top League an opportunity to play at international level."