Ireland makes 6 changes, Japan 5 for rugby test

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Michael Leitch of Japan slides in for a try in the second half on Saturday in a test match against Romania in Kumamoto, southern Japan.

Michael Leitch of Japan slides in for a try in the second half on Saturday in a test match against Romania in Kumamoto, southern Japan. (Photo: AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Coach Joe Schmidt has made six changes to Ireland's starting lineup to face Japan in Saturday's rugby test, the second of the three-match summer tour.

Andrew Conway, Rory Scannell, Luke McGrath and Dan Leavy will feature in the starting XV for the first time for Ireland, coming in following last weekend's 55-19 victory over the United States.

Keith Earls, voted player of the match against the Americans, shifts to the left wing to accommodate Conway in a back three that also features the return of Simon Zebo at fullback.

Rory Scannell, joining his brother Niall in the starting lineup, will partner Garry Ringrose in a new center combination for the Irish, who are using the tour to prepare for the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Ireland and Japan are set to meet in the group stage at the next World Cup.

Schmidt is missing 11 players who are involved in the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, and is using the tests against the United States and Japan to give younger players international experience.

Openside flanker Leavy, who has three caps as a replacement, is the only change in the starting pack, joining captain Rhys Ruddock in the backrow.

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph, meanwhile, made five changes from the lineup that started last week's 33-21 win over Romania. Harumichi Tatekawa, Akihito Yamada, Yu Chinen and 98-test veteran Hitoshi Ono were unavailable because of injuries.

William Tupou wins his first cap and joins Timothy Lafaele in the centers. Yu Tamura will start at flyhalf, while Kotaro Matsushima was named on the wing in place of the injured Akihito Yamada.

Keita Inagaki and Heiichiro Ito — who both started last week's game from the bench — join captain Shota Horie in the front row.

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Lineups:

Japan: Ryuji Noguchi, Kotaro Matshima, William Tupou, Timothy Lafaele, Kenki Fukuoka, Yu Tamura, Fumiaki Tanaka; Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Michael Leitch, Uwe Helu, Kotaro Yatabe, Heiichiro Ito, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki. Reserves: Yusuke Niwai, Shintaro Ishihara, Takuma Asahara, Hendrik Tui, Shuhei Matsuhashi, Yutaka Nagare, Derek Carpenter, Rikiya Matsuda.

Ireland: Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Paddy Jackson, Luke McGrath; Jack Conan, Dan Leavy, Rhys Ruddock (captain), Devin Toner, Quinn Roux, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, Cian Healy. Reserves: James Tracy, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Jack O'Donoghue, Kieran Marmion, Rory O'Loughlin, Tiernan O'Halloran.

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