Japan vs Springboks : Joseph said his players’ confidence at the tournament has grown so much through their four successive wins – including victories over Scotland and Ireland – that he has had less to do as they prepare for the last eight.
“The players have really taken over,” he said. “It is a really good sign as a coach when you feel a little redundant because you know there is real belief in your team.”
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Coach Jamie Joseph says Japan will have the element of surprise against South Africa after he named his side for Sunday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final.
Rugby World Cup quarter-final: Japan v South Africa
Venue: Tokyo Stadium Date: Sunday, 20 October Kick-off: 11:15 BST
While the Springboks have picked a powerful pack and six forward replacements, Joseph believes his team’s tactics are not so obvious.
“It is clear what South Africa are going to do,” he said.
“What is not so clear is what we are going to do; that is what I am looking forward to.”
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Ryohei Yamanaka’s inclusion at full-back in place of William Tupou is the only change to the starting XV that beat Scotland in their final Pool A game last weekend.
Wing Kotaro Matsushima, hooker Shota Horie, second row Luke Thompson, prop Keita Inagaki, fly-half Yu Tamura and captain Michael Leitch were all part of the squad that famously upset South Africa in the teams’ pool-stage meeting in Brighton four years ago.
Japan: Yamanaka; Matsushima, Lafaele, Nakamura, Fukuoka; Tamura, Nagare; Inagaki, Horie, Koo, Thompson, Moore, Leitch (c), Labuschagne, Himeno.
Replacements: Sakate, Nakajima, Ai Valu, Van der Walt, Lelei Mafi, Tanaka, Matsuda, Lava LemekiThis will be the third time Japan and South Africa have met in Test rugby, Japan beating the Springboks 34-32 at the 2015 World Cup before South Africa secured a comfortable 41-7 victory in a warm-up game for this World Cup
Japan’s victory over South Africa in 2015 was their first against a tier-one nation in the tournament at their 16th attempt, they have won two of their three such games since (v Ireland and Scotland in 2019).
Japan have won six consecutive Rugby World Cup matches, only Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England have enjoyed longer winning runs in the tournament
South Africa scored more tries (27) and points (185) than any other side in the pool stages, their tally of 27 tries is more than double the amount Japan scored (13)