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Leitch reclaims captain's armband

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Jamie Joseph plays around with combinations as Michael Leitch reclaims the captain's armband

Unlike the other teams in the Pacific Nations Cup, Jamie Joseph has resisted the urge to make mass changes to his side for the second round of the competition.

On Saturday, Japan will host Tonga in Osaka. Joseph has made just five changes to the starting XV that accounted for Fiji 34-21 last weekend.

Michael Leitch will make his first start for the year after sitting out all of Super Rugby with a chronic groin injury. He will take over at on the blindside flank whilst Yoshitaka Tokunaga will come into the team in place of last weekend’s captain, Pieter Labuschagne. As such, Leitch will also take back the captain’s armband.

Yutaka Nagare swaps into the starting side for Kaito Shigeno and Lomano Lemeki comes onto the left wing for the first try scorer of last week’s match, Kenki Fukuoka.

Historically, Tonga and Japan has been a fairly even contest, with Tonga winning 9 games to Japan’s 8 in head-to-heads. Last time the two sides clashed, in 2017, Japan ran out comfortable winners, 39-6.

The match kicks off at 7:10PM, JST.

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Jamie Joseph plays around with combinations as Michael Leitch reclaims the captain's armband