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Dublin: 3 °C Sunday 16 February, 2020

Japan 'trying to forget' Brighton Miracle as they make enforced change for Springbok clash

‘We have some players from then, and it was an amazing achievement, but we’re working on our own things.’

Image: Mark Baker

JAPAN COACH JAMIE Joseph made one enforced change to his starting XV for Sunday’s ‘massive’ World Cup quarter-final against South Africa.

Ryohei Yamanaka comes in at fullback 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. Lomano Lemeki provides back-line cover on the bench.

The side shows five changes to the pre-World Cup 41-7 loss to South Africa in September, while four men remain - Kotaro Matsushima, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson and Michael Leitch -  in the starting XV four years on from the Miracle of Brighton.

“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.”

Joseph explained that his players had had some time off in their build-up to the weekend’s game, “to let them absorb what they’ve achieved” in becoming the first Asian team to make the quarter-finals.

“You always know what you get when you play South Africa,” he added, and yesterday’s team announcement from Rassie Erasmus set the Springbok stall out.

It’s clear what South Africa are going to do. Their team selection is a clear sign that they’re approaching the game with a physical forward challenge.”

Their main tactics up until now, Joseph says, has been “giving the opposition the ball and using their forwards in defence”.

“That’s what we’ve been preparing for all week.”

Joseph confirmed Tupou had failed the concussion protocols and had drafted in Wimpie van der Walt and Amanaki Mafi onto the bench to offer a more heavyweight option later in the game.

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Leitch said the team would not be satisfied with just “being among the best eight teams in the competition”.

“The first goal was to get out of pool stage to get into the quarter-finals,” the former Kiwi flanker said.

“Now we’ve had to shift the goalposts. Every game for us is a final, every game we treated like our last game.

“We’ll play South Africa and if we win, then we’ll focus on next week.

“We’re not satisfied with what we’ve got so far, we’ll go out against South Africa and try to get the win.”


15. Ryohei Yamanaka
14. Kotaro Matsushima
13. Timothy Lafaele
12. Ryoto Nakamura
11. Kenki Fukuoka
10. Yu Tamura
9. Yutaka Nagare

1. Keita Inagaki
2. Shota Horie
3. Koo Ji-won
4. Luke Thompson
5. James Moore
6. Michael Leitch (Capt.)
7. Pieter Labuschagne
8. Kazuki Himeno


16. Atsushi Sakat
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

Well, it’s finally here. Andy Dunne, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey make a call on Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final with New Zealand.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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