Springboks at full strength for Japan Test

By Sports Desk September 03, 2019

Rassie Erasmus is adamant South Africa will not underestimate Japan again on Friday after naming arguably his strongest XV for the Springboks' final Rugby World Cup warm-up match.

Captain Siya Kolisi, fit again following a knee injury, is the only man included in the starting line-up who did not feature in the 16-16 Rugby Championship draw with New Zealand in July.

An experimental team beat Argentina 24-18 in the Springboks' most recent game but Erasmus has rolled out his big guns in South Africa's final fixture before they face the All Blacks again in their World Cup opener.

Pieter-Steph du Toit will make his 50th Test appearance in the back row alongside Kolisi, with Erasmus mindful about taking World Cup hosts Japan seriously after they pulled off a stunning 34-32 win when the two teams last met four years ago.

"I hope this selection will send a strong message that we have the utmost respect for Japan," Erasmus told reporters.

"Perhaps we made the mistake of complacency against them in the past but we've been hammering the message all week that we should never do that again against Japan.

"They're a smart team of great athletes, playing at home, having won a title in the past month and now desperate to prove something. This Test is as big a challenge as any we've had this season.

"They made a movie about the last time they played us - it's our job to make sure there's no sequel."


South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.

Related items

  • Bristol start Premiership season with derby battering of Bath Bristol start Premiership season with derby battering of Bath

    Luke Morahan grabbed a double and new signing Nathan Hughes also crossed as Bristol Bears started the Premiership season with a 43-16 derby drubbing of Bath.

    Ambitious Bristol marked their return to the top flight with a win over Bath last season and Pat Lam's side turned it on for a sell-out crowd at Ashton Gate on Friday.

    Utility-back Morahan set the ball rolling with an early try following a powerful run from Hughes, who marked his league debut following his move from Wasps by going under the posts 11 minutes in.

    Mat Protheroe touched down on the stroke of half-time to put Bristol 17-13 up after a Zach Mercer try and eight points from the boot of Rhys Priestland gave Bath a slender lead.

    Bristol dominated the second half to run away with it, Piers O'Conor, John Afoa and teenage debutant Ioan Lloyd going over before Morahan claimed his second of the match.

    Hughes was also involved in that final score as he set about trying to prove a point to Eddie Jones after being left out of England's Rugby World Cup squad.

    A third penalty of the match for Priestland was Bath's only score of the second half of their first Premiership match under new director of rugby Stuart Hooper.

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan v South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan v South Africa

    Michael Leitch declared "the end is not here" as Japan plot another sensational defeat of South Africa in their first Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

    The hosts reached the last eight for the first time with a 28-21 victory over Scotland in a decisive match in Yokohama last weekend.

    Japan avoided New Zealand by topping Pool A but face a huge test against the Springboks at Tokyo Stadium.

    The Brave Blossoms pulled off one of the great sporting upsets by beating the two-time champions in Brighton at the last World Cup four years ago and captain Leitch says history can repeat itself.

    "We're not satisfied; the end is not here," the number eight said.

    "We'll play in the last eight and have another chance to show our game to our people. Each of us are playing to have more of that opportunity.

    "South Africa looked really scary at the start of the week, but we begin to feel really excited as we understand the game and think about how to break them down. That fear gradually fades and confidence rises."

    Japan were thrashed 41-7 by the Rugby Championship holders in a pre-tournament Test last month and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi says that served as a small measure of revenge. 

    "That was very tough to lose that match in England. That stuck with us until that game when we got here [before this World Cup]," the flanker said. "It's something that we never want to go through again."

    He added: "They are a much better team now, and it was good to play that game before the World Cup, just to get that monkey off our back.

    "Now it's a different game again. We are going to have to be at our best again, because they have really improved as a team - they are much better now than four years ago. So we are looking forward to the challenge."

     

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Japan – Michael Leitch

    The inspirational Leitch and his opposite number Kolisi are set for another monumental battle, while also keeping calm heads and ensuring their sides stay disciplined with so much at stake. 

    Leitch will need to lead by example again after an inspired display against Scotland.

    South Africa - Cheslin Kolbe

    Kolbe missed the Springboks' final pool match against Canada as a precautionary measure after taking a blow to his ankle in the victory over Italy.

    The livewire wing claimed a clinical double in the 49-3 drubbing of the Azzurri and also touched down twice in the warm-up rout of Japan, so the hosts must be wary of the threat he poses.

     

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - Japan's victory over South Africa in England was their first against a tier one nation in the tournament at their 16th attempt.
    - South Africa scored more tries (27) and points (185) than any other side in the pool stage. Japan scored have scored only 13 tries en route to the last eight. 
    - Japan made 559 metres against Scotland, the third time in the tournament they had made 500 plus metres in a match.
    - Springboks wing Kolbe averaged 12.8 metres per carry in the pool stage, the best rate of any player to make at least 10 carries.
    - South Africa won all of their 47 line-outs on their own throw in the pool stage, the only side in the tournament to have a 100 per cent success rate.

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Boks ready to banish memories four years on from the miracle of Brighton Rugby World Cup 2019: Boks ready to banish memories four years on from the miracle of Brighton

    Such was the scale of Japan's Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa four years ago, they made a movie - 'The Brighton Miracle' - to commemorate one of the great sporting upsets.

    There will surely be a sequel on the way after this year's Brave Blossoms reached the quarter-finals for the first time by beating Scotland, and box-office sales could soar through the roof if history repeats itself on Sunday when they face the Springboks again.

    South Africa will start the last-eight contest as overwhelming favourites to gain revenge, with their star-studded cast including Cheslin Kolbe, Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

    Japan also have no shortage of talent to play leading roles and will be backed by a raucous crowd when they attempt to break new ground once again on home soil.

    As the Boks plot to spoil the party for their hosts, we reflect on how Japan pulled off a monumental shock at the last World Cup in England, as well as looking at the prospects of lightning striking twice.

     

    Hesketh and Goromaru rock Boks

    Japan were not given a prayer in the opening Pool B match given Zimbabwe were the only team they had previously beaten in a World Cup match – and that win was way back in 1991.

    Yet Eddie Jones' side humiliated a vastly experienced Springboks team with their exciting brand of rugby, coming from behind to secure the most dramatic and unlikely of victories.

    Karne Hesketh crossed right at the death and Ayumu Goromaru claimed a 24-point haul to leave the two-time champions not knowing what had hit them following a 34-32 loss.

     

    Meyer fronts up to 'Boklash'

    Heyneke Meyer came under fire after his side lost the plot and rampant Japan made them pay.

    The then-head South Africa coach said: "I have to apologise to the nation. It was just not good enough. It was unacceptable and I take full responsibility.

    "Every game is going to be tough but there are no excuses."

     

    Jones: I had to look at the scoreboard

    Jones, who landed the England job after his success with Japan in 2015, was pinching himself after the underdogs snatched victory with their last throw of the dice. 

    The Australian said: "Japan beating South Africa? I had to look at the scoreboard at the end just to see if it was true or not. We kept hanging in there. It looked at one stage when they got seven points ahead that they would run away with it.

    "That would have been the normal scenario, like the horror story where the woman goes for a shower after midnight and you know what's going to happen. Normally they would score three or four, it ends up 50-20 and everyone says, 'Well done Japan, you tried hard, you were brave'. But we were more than brave."

     

    What happened next?

    Jones said the objective for Japan was to go on and reach the quarter-finals after downing the two-time champions, but they fell agonisingly short.

    A heavy defeat to Scotland turned out to be crucial as Japan finished third in Pool B after failing to pick up any bonus points.

    South Africa, Scotland and the Brave Blossoms all won three and lost one of their four games, but it was Japan who missed out.

     

    Hope springs eternal for revenge-seeking Boks

    Although Japan are riding on the crest of a wave as they prepare for their first World Cup knockout match, South Africa have looked formidable despite making a losing start against New Zealand.

    Potent in attack and solid in defence, the Springboks have turned their fortunes around under Rassie Erasmus and dethroned the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

    They also hammered Japan 41-7 in a pre-tournament warm-up match and is it hard to envisage them suffering another upset at the hands of their next opponents.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.