Rugby: Kirwan wants banned player

Japan coach John Kirwan wants to bring back Christian Loamanu for his World Cup squad even though the winger has received a lifetime ban for drug use, a rugby union leader said Tuesday.

Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) chairman Noburo Mashimo told reporters Kirwan wanted to reinstate the Tongan-born Loamanu but admitted there would be problems with the move.

Loamanu, 24, won 16 caps for the Brave Blossoms and played at the 2007 World Cup, but was sacked from Japan Top League side Toshiba Brave Lupus in February 2009 and banned by the JRFU after two doping test specimens revealed traces of cannabis.

Mashimo told Japanese media: “It will be difficult to bring him (Loamanu) back after the decision has already been made on this case.”

“However, we’d better listen to what the head coach would say and see how much he needs the player.”

Mashimo added that he had advised Kirwan, the All Black legend who became Japan coach months before the 2007 World Cup in France, to state his case at the union’s executive meeting in March.

Loamanu, now playing for RC Toulonnais in France, came to Japan when he was in high school and made his debut for Japan’s national side in 2005, aged 18.

Another rugby board member poured cold water on the idea of a recall, telling Kyodo news agency: “He (Loamanu) caused a lot of trouble for everyone, and he isn’t appropriate for the national team.”

“Even if the subject comes up, it will be firmly shot down,” the unnamed official said.

At the 2007 World Cup, Japan drew with Canada 12-12 to break a 16-year, 13-match losing streak.

The agile but physically inferior Blossoms have scored just one win against one draw and 18 defeats in the past six World Cups, where they have represented Asia since the inaugural 1987 edition.

Kirwan has targeted at least two wins in the World Cup in New Zealand in September and October and automatically qualifying for the 2015 tournament in England. Japan will host the 2019 edition.

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