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Japan Rugby League team hopes to enter 2017 World Cup

LOCAL rugby player Lachie Gelling donned a guernsey for Japan in the recent International Nines Rugby League competition.

Gelling said pre-game training had been very successful, as many players only arrived in Australia the morning before the competition.

Japan’s first game was against Portugal. The teams were evenly matched in skills and scores, but the Portugese dominated in terms of physical size.

The game went to Portugal, who scored a late try in the final minute of the game.

The competition, in its 11th year, is preparation for many players involved in the Rugby League World Cup, to be held at the end of the year.

International teams included Fiji, Philippines, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Tonga, America Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea and Japan, as well the Australian Indigenous team.

Gelling said the Japanese team commanded respect and was well supported by the Aussie crowd, which boosted the players.

The overall scores of each game were very close.

Only 14 teams were invited to compete in the world cup, which will be held in England and Wales in October and November.

Japan, which has an International Rugby League ranking of 17th out of 54 countries, missed out this year. The team hopes to be there in 2017.

Competition winners on the day were Papua New Guinea.
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