Japan vs South Africa: Brave Blossoms make one change for quarter-final

Rugby World Cup
by AFP

Japan coach Jamie Joseph made one injury-enforced change to his starting XV for Sunday's World Cup quarter-final against South Africa, a game the former All Black described as "massive" for the tournament hosts.

Ryohei Yamanaka comes in at full-back to replace William Tupou, who drops out of the 23 after failing a head injury assessment in the final pool-stage 28-21 victory over Scotland.

There are five changes overall to the Brave Blossoms side that lost to 41-7 to South Africa in a World Cup warm-up game in September.

Star winger Kotaro Matsushima, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson and skipper Michael Leitch were also in the starting XV when Japan recorded a shock pool victory over the Springboks in the 2015 World Cup.

"We won't be drawing on it at all," insisted Joseph. "I've been trying to forget about that for four years!

"Yes, we have some players from then. And it was an amazing achievement.

"But we're working on our own things, I won't be alluding to that.

"This is a massive game for us."

Skipper Michael Leitch echoed his coach's words, adding: "Four years ago there was a different mentality going into the World Cup and we won three.

"Now we go into Tests believing we can win. The one thing that is different is the mentality of the players."

Meanwhile, Cheslin Kolbe has returned from an ankle injury he sustained against Italy to be named in South Africa's starting side for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against tournament hosts Japan on Sunday.

Kolbe, who scored two tries against Italy, missed the Springboks final Pool B match against Canada as a precaution to ensure he was ready for the quarter-finals.

Coach Rassie Erasmus had rotated his squad through the pools to ensure they all had game time before the quarter-finals, but settled on the same match day squad that played against Italy.

Captain Siya Kolisi will start his third match in succession, and play his fifth game at the tournament, after he returned from an injury-ravaged season in the Springboks' tournament opener against the All Blacks.

South Africa take on Japan in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Tokyo on Sunday October 20, kicking off at 7:15pm local, 9:15pm AEDT, LIVE on Foxtel and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO, Rugby Xplorer and Amazon Alexa.


Japan to face South Africa

1. Keita Inagaki

2. Shota Horie

3. Jiwon Koo

4. Luke Thompson

5. James Moore

6. Michael Leitch (capt.)

7. Pieter Labuschagne

8. Kazuki Himeno

9. Yutaka Nagare

10. Yu Tamura

11. Kenki Fukuoka

12. Ryoto Nakamura

13. Timothy Lafaele

14. Kotaro Matsushima

15. Ryohei Yamanaka


16. Atsushi Sakate

17. Isileli Nakajima

18. Asaeli Ai Valu

19. Wimpie van der Walt

20. Amanaki Lelei Mafi

21. Fumiaki Tanaka

22. Rikiya Matsuda

23. Lomano Lava Lemeki

South Africa to face Japan

1. Tendai Mtawarira

2. Mbongeni Mbonambi

3. Frans Malherbe

4. Eben Etzebeth

5. Lood de Jager

6. Siya Kolisi (capt.)

7. Pieter-Steph Du Toit

8. Duane Vermeulen

9. Faf de Klerk

10. Handre Pollard

11. Makazole Mapimpi

12. Damian de Allende

13. Lukhanyo Am

14. Cheslin Kolbe

15. Willie Le Roux


16. Malcolm Marx

17. Steven Kitshoff

18. Vincent Koch

19. RG Snyman

20. Franco Mostert

21. Francois Louw

22. Herschel Jantjies

23. Frans Steyn