Dublin: 16°C Sunday 22 May 2022

Japan make three changes from Ireland win for showdown with Samoa

Michael Leitch returns for Saturday’s game but the captain’s armband is retained by Pieter Labuschagne.

Michael Leitch in possession for Japan against Ireland.
Michael Leitch in possession for Japan against Ireland.
Image: Eugene Hoshiko

JAPAN HEAD COACH Jamie Joseph today made three changes to the starting side who stunned Ireland for this weekend’s Rugby World Cup Pool A clash with Samoa.

The hosts, who toppled the Irish last week, have recalled talismanic leader Michael Leitch as they look to make it three wins out of three against the Pacific Islanders on Saturday [KO 11.30am] in Toyota City.

Despite Leitch’s return, openside flanker Pieter Labuschagne retains the captain’s armband after an impressive first run-out as skipper against Ireland.

Atsushi Sakate comes in as starting hooker for the Brave Blossoms and Wimpie van der Walt at lock, while veteran Luke Thompson has been left out of the match 23.

Shota Horie drops to the bench after his man-of-the-match display against Ireland when Japan produced the shock of the tournament by winning 19-12.

Winger Kenki Fukuoka, who came on to score Japan’s only try of the match in Shizuoka, is again named among Japan’s replacements.

Leitch, who inspired the jaw-dropping 34-32 upset of South Africa at the 2015 World Cup that put Japanese rugby on the map, returns at blindside flanker to win his 66th cap in red and white.

Yu Tamura, whose silky playmaking skills and calm kicking paced Japan against Ireland, will make his 61st appearance for his country.

Japan won three matches four years ago but failed to reach the knockout stage. They began with a 30-10 win over Russia.

Another victory over Samoa would put them in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals for the first time before facing Scotland in their final Pool A game.

Japan (v Samoa):

15. Ryohei Nakayama
14. Kotaro Matsushima
13. Timothy Lafaele
12. Ryoto Nakamura
11. Lomano Lemeki
10. Yu Tamura
9. Yutaka Nagare


Get closer to the stories that matter with exclusive analysis, insight and debate in The42 Membership.

Become a Member

1. Keita Inagaki
2. Atsushi Sakate
3. Koo Ji-won
4. Wimpie van der Walt
5. James Moore
6. Michael Leitch
7. Pieter Labuschagne (captain)
8. Kazuki Himeno


16. Shota Horie
17. Isileli Nakajima
18. Asaeli Ai Valu
19. Uwe Helu
20. Hendrik Tui
21. Fumiaki Tanaka
22. Rikiya Matsuda
23. Kenki Fukuoka 

© – AFP, 2019

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

About the author:


Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel