Joseph Names Side to Play Springboks
TOKYO (Sept. 4) – Japan coach Jamie Joseph named his team Wednesday for the much anticipated rematch with South Africa.
Friday’s game at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium is just the second time the two sides have met – the first coming four years ago in Brighton, England, at Rugby World Cup 2015 when the Brave Blossoms downed the Springboks 34-32.
Just six of the Japan team played in that game, including Michael Leitch, who once again leads the Brave Blossoms from blindside flanker.
Leitch joins up with Pieter “Lappies” Labuschagne and Amanaki Lelei Mafi in an athletic and powerful back row with Uwe Helu and Luke Thompson at lock and Keita Inagaki, Atsushi Sakate and Koo Ji Won in the front row.
In the backs, Kaito Shigeno and Yu Tamura will wear nine and 10, respectively, with Ryoto Nakamura and Timothy Lafaele pairing up in the centres.
Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima are named on the wings with Will Tupou at fullback.
Among the replacements, Takuya Kitade is set to win his first cap and he is joined on the bench by props Isileli Nakajima and Asaeli Ai Valu with James Moore and Yoshitaka Tokunaga the two other back-up forwards.
Yutaka Nagare, Rikiya Matsuda and Ataata Moeakiola are the reserve backs
“We are under no illusions how tough it will be,” Joseph said. “We understand we are playing probably the biggest pack in world rugby and that it will be physically very challenging. But it’s the type of game we need going into a physical Rugby World Cup.”