CFL selects 5 Japanese players for the Global Combine in Toronto

The Canadian Football League (CFL) has selected five Japanese players for the Global Combine which runs from March 24-27.

CFL scouts were impressed with the talent at the March 5 CFL Global Combine in Japan and extended invites to Toronto’s combine to five well-deserving players:

The five players selected for the Global Combine:

Riki Matsui (Fujitsu Frontiers WR)
Naoyuki Saikawa (Fujitsu Frontiers DL)
Yuya Watanabe (Fujitsu Frontiers DB)
Rikiya Yamamoto (Asahi Beer Silver Star LB)
Yoshito Omi (IBM BIG BLUE WR)

The CFL Combine in Japan featured 23 dream-chasing Japanese players, all of whom competed in typical combine drills such as the 40-yard dash, bench press, and broad jump, along with on field position-based drills to test their skills.

The Japanese X-League signed a partnership with the CFL in 2019, and through this partnership, a domestic combine has been held for Japanese players ever since 2020.

Let’s take a look at the five invites below

Yoshito Omi (WR)

The 6′, 188 pound, 26-year-old is no stranger to football abroad having played for the Spring League in the US and the Leipzig Kings of the European League of Football. Last year, Omi was invited to the NFL International Combine in London. Before embarking on his international football journey, Omi led the entire X League in receiving in 2019 with 33 catches for 544 yards and seven touchdowns as a member of the IBM Big Blue. He was also captain of the Japanese national team. Read more about Omi here:

“I am very pleased to be selected as the CFL Combine. At Toronto, I will bring out all the experience, knowledge and skills I have cultivated so far. Thank you for your continued support.”


Riki Matsui (WR)

Matsui is coming off of fantastic year in the X-League, where the 6’1 215-pound receiver made 28 catches for 439 yards and four touchdowns. The 25-year old helped the Fujitsu Frontiers capture the league championship with a five catch, 124 yard, and one touchdown performance in the Rice Bowl, earning him MVP of the title game. At this year’s CFL Global Combine Matsui impressed with the top broad jump at the event jump 10 feet and one inch.

“I am very happy to be invited to the CFL global combine. I want to not waste this opportunity and use my strength to make it a good opportunity to connect to the next one. I will do my best !!!”

Photo: X-League

Naoyuki Saikawa (DL)
Another member of the Fujitsu Frontiers on the list is a physical defensive lineman. The 6’2 270-pound Waseda University product was part of a stout Frontiers defense this season. Saikawa has had his eye on the CFL before as a virtual combine invite last year.

“Thank you for inviting me to CFL Global Combine. I will do my best not to lose to overseas players!”

Photo: X-League

Yuya Watanabe (DB)

Another member of the champion Fujitsu Frontiers  defense is 23-year old defensive back Yuya Watanabe.The 5’10 205 pound defender had a clutch pick-six last season that helped the Frontiers top their rivals the Obic Seagulls.

“I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity. I am very excited now. I would like to believe in myself and take the next step. Thank you for your support.”

Photo: X-League

Rikiya Yamamoto (LB)

The 5’10 220-pound linebacker was an All X1 Area selection for the Asahi Beer Silver Star in Japan’s second division. The 23-year-old JF Oberlin University product put up 16 reps on the bench press and ran a 4.48 shuttle at the CFL Global Combine.

“Training for global combine so far I’ve been there. Many people are supporting me so I’ll do my best to get results! “

Photo: X-League

These five CFL longshots will represent Japan’s proud American football scene in Toronto later this month. The Japanese players along with the other globals will compete alongside Canadian players at the CFL combine as the league looks to find the best prospects for the upcoming draft in May.

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