Japan lean on experience as Leitch returns as captain against Scotland

Brave Blossoms coach Joseph makes four changes to the line-up for the highly anticipated Pool A decider.

TOKYO, 11 Oct - Japan coach Jamie Joseph will draw on the World Cup experience of his most senior players in the final Pool A game against Scotland at Yokohama Stadium on Sunday.

Japan go into the weekend having won their three preceding pool matches.

Michael Leitch, pictured, returns as the game captain for Japan after Pieter Labuschagne took on the role for the past two games. Hooker Shota Horie, second-row Luke Thompson, winger Kenki Fukuoka and full-back William Tupou have all been given the nod.

After naming his team on Friday, Joseph said: "This will be the most significant match (in the Japanese rugby history) and that's because we're in a position we are, now top of the table and we've got the opportunity to win the pool. If we win on Sunday we go out confidently to the quarter-finals - that's never ever happened before.

"I'd like to remind everybody it hasn't been a fluke (but) a lot of hard work. We've been in the camp for 240 days this year alone. The majority of our players are professionals in their companies, we're an amateur rugby team. What that means is the players who play for Japan don't get paid, or 100 dollars a day."


Thompson is Japan's most experienced RWC performer, making his 13th appearance on Sunday, Leitch will make his 12th and Horie his 11th, while fly-half Yu Tamura is the top scorer of Rugby World Cup 2019 going into the final weekend. Tamura has 40 points to his name and is 12 points clear of second-placed Elton Jantjies of South Africa.

Second-row Wimpie van der Walt and winger Lomano Lemeki - the Player of the Match against Samoa - miss out on the 23.


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. William Tupou

16. Atsushi Sakate
17. Isileli Nakajima
18. Asaeli Ai Valu
19. Uwe Helu
20. Hendrik Tui
21. Fumiaki Tanaka
22. Rikiya Matsuda
23. Ryohei Yamanaka

RNS djk/mn