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Michael Leitch to captain Japan in second Test against Ireland

Michael Leitch in action against Ireland
Image: Michael Leitch leads Japan in Saturday's second Test

Japan coach Jamie Joseph has made eight changes to his starting XV for Saturday's second Test against Ireland in Tokyo.

Shota Horie and Fumiaki Tanaka were among the senior players dropped to the bench as the Brave Blossoms seek to restore some pride after a 50-22 loss in the first Test.

Tracy, Treadwell start for Ireland
Tracy, Treadwell start for Ireland

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Michael Leitch captains the side while Luke Thompson makes a comeback 18 months after announcing his retirement from international rugby.

Joseph said co-captain Harumichi Tatekawa had failed to recover from a calf injury while Horie was given a break from the responsibility of leading the team, leaving him with Leitch as the obvious choice to lead the side.

"He is a good player and leader," Joseph told Kyodo News. "Having Shota come on in the second half with his energy will make a difference.

"To win the match we need to play for 80 minutes and we need our experienced leaders to come on and show composure, discipline and intensity in the later stages."

Japan's Yoshitaka Tokunaga (C) is tackled by Ireland's Cian Healy (2nd R) and Dan Leavy (L), as Japan's Heiichiro Ito (R) looks on
Image: Japan lost 50-22 against Ireland in last Saturday's first Test

Shintaro Ishihara, Yusuke Niwai and Takuma Asahara feature in a fresh front row as five of the eight changes come in the pack.

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Shuhei Matsuhashi starts at openside along Leitch and Amanaki Mafi in the back row.

Japan: 15 Ryuji Noguchi, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Kotaro Matsushima, 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Yutaka Nagare; 1 Shintaro Ishihara, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 3 Takuma Asahara, 4 Luke Thompson, 5 Uwe Helu, 6 Michael Leitch (c), 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 8 Amanaki Lelei Mafi.

Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Takayuki Watanabe, 19 Kotaro Yatabe, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka

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