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Japan make one change for first-ever World Cup quarter-final

By Alex McLeod
Japan celebrate their 28-21 win over Scotland in Yokohama. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has made just one change for his side’s maiden World Cup quarter-final appearance against South Africa in Tokyo on Sunday.


14 of the starting XV that faced Scotland in Yokohama last week have been retained, with the only change coming at fullback as Will Tupou is dropped from the match day squad in place of Ryohei Yamanaka.

A further three switches have been made on the reserves bench, one of which has been instigated by the replacement made at No. 15.

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Taking Yamanaka’s spot in the reserves is Lomano Lemeki, who hasn’t featured fro the Brave Blossoms since their 38-19 victory over Samoa in Toyota.

Elsewhere, Wimpie van der Walt usurps veteran second-rower Uwe Helu at No. 19, while barnstorming loose forward Amanaki Mafi has been named ahead of Hendrick Tui.

In total, just four players – Kotaro Matsushima, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson and captain Michael Leitch – have survived in the starting lineup from the side that famously defeated the Springboks 34-32 in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup.

A further four players from that fateful match – Mafi, Yu Tamura, Keita Inagaki and Fumiaki Tanaka – will feature from off the bench in the Japanese capital.


Kick-off for the match at Tokyo Stadium is 7:15pm local time.

Japan team to face South Africa in Tokyo on Sunday:

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

In other news:

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