Japan make just one change for crunch quarterfinal clash against the Boks
Much like the Springboks a day earlier Japan has largely stuck to their guns in selection making just one forced change to their team that beat Scotland for Sunday’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) quarterfinal.
Ryohei Yamanaka comes in at fullback to replace William Tupou‚ who drops out of the 23.
Tupou suffered a concussion in Japan’s win over Scotland at Yokohama with sprightly winger Lomano Lava Lemeki named among the replacements as cover for the back three.
Significantly‚ however‚ there are five changes to the Brave Blossoms side who lost to 41-7 to South Africa in a World Cup warm-up game.
Japan‚ it is widely anticipated‚ will mount a far more serious challenge when they meet the Springboks at Tokyo Stadium on Sunday.
Moreover‚ in Kotaro Matsushima‚ Shota Horie‚ Luke Thompson and Michael Leitch‚ Japan have five survivors of the team who upset the Springboks in Brighton at the 2015 RWC.
Lock Thompson will become the first player to play 14 RWC matches for Japan‚ extending his record‚ while Leitch will play his 13th match and hooker Horie his 12th.
Naturally‚ flyhalf Yu Tamura‚ the tournament’s top scorer thus far with 48 points and joint top try-scorer Matsushima with five are in the mix.
Coach Jamie Joseph also made two changes to the forwards on the bench with Wimpie van der Walt and Amanaki Mafi replacing Uwe Helu and Hendrik Tui.
There had been concern over the availability of loosehead prop Jiwon Koo who left the field against Scotland with a rib injury but it has healed enough for him to make a start.
Japan team to play South Africa:
Ryohei Yamanaka; Kotaro Matsushima‚ Timothy Lafaele‚ Ryoto Nakamura‚ Kenki Fukuoka; Yu Tamura‚ Yutaka Nagare; Kazuki Himeno‚ Pieter Labuschagne‚ Michael Leitch (captain); James Moore‚ Luke Thompson; Jiwon Koo‚ Shota Horie‚ Keita Inagaki.
Atsushi Sakate‚ Isileli Nakajima‚ Asaeli Ai Valu‚ Wimpie van der Walt‚ Amanaki Lelei Mafi; Fumiaki Tanaka‚ Rikiya Matsuda‚ Lomano Lava Lemeki.