Japan vs South Africa Live : South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus has revealed playing a World Cup warm-up fixture against Japan (won by the Boks 41-7 in Kumagaya) had been a deliberate ploy in order to dampen down any talk of the Brighton Miracle if they met during the tournament:
“In all honesty, the reason for that warm-up game was to erase the Brighton game, so that if we do play them in play-off games, that game hopefully doesn’t get mentioned again.
“It’s 1-1, and now we go into a quarter-final game against a really tough team. That (Brighton) game is in the past now.
“I must say that in that warm-up game, there was no pressure.
“We definitely won’t be able to go with the same plan that we went into the warm-up game with (and) we will definitely have to come up with a totally new plan.
“It will probably be something where we will have to match their pace and speed, and try to keep up with the way they play the game.”
Japan captain Michael Leitch has said the potential for his side to grow is “scary” and that while the World Cup knockout stage will be a step into the unknown, they have the mental strength to deal with the pressure:
“Looking back, even since 2011, this team has grown so much and it is scary to think about how far this team could actually grow.
“The last four games, we are getting better each time, and the confidence is growing. This is great for Japanese rugby, for rugby in Asia and for tier-two rugby.
“First we have qualified for the quarter-finals and now we are shuffling the goalposts (of what can be expected).
“The biggest reason is belief, that is the trigger. Since 2011, the opponents we have played have been stronger and stronger. We have played more tier-one nations and played in Super Rugby.”
Japan have made one injury-enforced change to their starting line-up, bringing Ryohei Yamanaka in at full-back in place of William Tupou.
Tupou suffered a concussion in Japan’s win over Scotland at Yokohama last weekend and drops out of the matchday 23 altogether, with livewire winger Lomano Lava Lemeki named among the replacements as cover for the back three
South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe has returned from an ankle injury. Kolbe scored twice against Italy but picked up an injury and was kept out of the Springboks’ final Pool B match against Canada as a precaution to ensure he was ready for the quarters.
Coach Rassie Erasmus had rotated his squad through the pool stage to ensure his players all had game time before the knockout stage but has settled on the same matchday squad that played against Italy, with a 6-2 split between forwards and backs in the replacements.