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Thompson joins Japan at Rugby World Cup

Luke Thompson will play at a World Cup for the fourth time in his career after being names in hosts' Japan's squad for the tournament, which begins on Sept. 20. Steve Bardens -- World Rugby via Getty Images

Luke Thompson has been handed the chance to play at a fourth Rugby World Cup after being included in Japan's squad for the tournament.

The 38-year-old New Zealand-born lock was one of the more experienced players to be named in the hosts' squad, though forward Takuya Kitade was the only uncapped player to be included in Jamie Joseph's 31-man party for the competition, which will run from Sept. 20 to Nov. 2.

Kitade is one of three hookers in the squad, along with Shota Horie and Atsushi Sakate.

Japan, who will be captained by loose forward Michael Leitch for the second successive World Cup, will be hoping they can continue a strong run of form and get out of the pool stages for the first time.

The hosts came close to reaching the quarterfinals in 2015 in England, where they famously stunned South Africa in the biggest upset in the history of the tournament.

They will begin their campaign next month brimming with confidence, having achieved dominant wins over Fiji, Tonga and the United States to take the Pacific Nations Cup and move up to ninth in the world, matching their highest-ever ranking.

Joseph's side will play South Africa on Sept. 6 in a warm-up match that marks the teams' first meeting since that clash in 2015, before opening the Rugby World Cup against Russia on Sept. 20 in Tokyo.

They will also play Ireland, Samoa and Scotland in Pool A.

SQUAD

Backs: Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka, Ataata Moeakiola, Lomano Lemeki, William Tupou, Ryoto Nakamura, Timothy Lafaele, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryohei Yamanaka.

Forwards: Michael Leitch (capt), Keita Inagaki, Yusuke Kizu, Jiwon Koo, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Valu, Takuya Kitade, Atsushi Sakate, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson, Wimpie van der Walt, Uwe Helu, James Moore, Hendrik Tui, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno, Amanaki Mafi.