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Bok stars top the charts as Kolbe suffers injury

JAPAN LEAGUE ONE PREVIEW: A couple of double World Cup-winning Springboks are topping the charts in some stat categories as Japan Rugby League One enters Round 13 this weekend.

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Japan has attracted stars from around the world over the years and it is no different when it comes to South Africans.

Despite the Heat’s lowly position in the standings, Bok lock Franco Mostert has shown off his incredible workrate once again.

According to Opta, Mostert has completed the most tackles in the league this season with 179.

That is 13 more than the next-best player (Kazuki Himeno, 166).

On attack, another Bok is leading the way.

Centre Damian de Allende has the highest dominant carry rate (63.3 percent) in this season’s Japan Rugby League One.

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All Black star and 2023 World Player of the Year Ardie Savea is in second with 61.3 percent.

All Black flyhalf Richie Mo’unga has the most try assists this season with 13.

Kolbe out of action

Meanwhile, the positives from Sungoliath’s deserved win over the Steelers last weekend were tempered by the sight of Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe limping off in the second half with an undisclosed injury.

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And while he will be missing on Saturday for the clash against the Heat, another commanding performance will further boost Sungoliath’s burgeoning confidence after securing four wins from their last five.

Two more and their semifinal spot will be confirmed.

It will be ‘squeaky bum’ time for the Steelers in the league.

Win four games back-to-back or the season’s revival is going to fall short.

That is the assignment facing former Wallaby coach Dave Rennie and his Kobe Steelers as their campaign reaches what former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson once quaintly referred to as ‘squeaky bum’ time.

The Kobe defence was certainly ‘squeaking’ in the second half against Sungoliath during that 27-36 defeat on Sunday that could yet be the moment a visit to the semifinals slipped from the 2018 champions’ grasp.

Standing in their way as Kobe begins their walk on the edge is a Brave Lupus Tokyo outfit that is flying.

After a steady build-up since Todd Blackadder joined the club in 2019, which included an appearance in the semifinals two years ago and a narrow miss last term, the former Crusaders and Bath coach has his men on course for a serious shot at the title, having lost just once.

Blackadder added the All Blacks, flyhalf Mo’unga and loose forward Shannon Frizell, to his roster in the off-season and they have proved inspired signings.

Mo’unga was ice cool last weekend as he converted the match-winning try in referee’s time against the Spears, with the goal taking his season tally to 126, fourth on the rankings.

That he also ranks No.1 for try ‘assists’ shows just how good the investment in the seven-time Super Rugby winner has been.

With eight tries to his name in his debut season in Japan Rugby League One – which is only 11 short of the number he scored in 68 games of Super Rugby for the Highlanders – Frizell has arguably over-achieved in terms of the expectations of him, especially in terms of his contribution on the scoreboard.

Japan Rugby League One Fixtures – Round 13

Division One:

Friday, April 12:
Black Rams Tokyo v Wild Knights
Liners v Yokohama Eagles

Saturday, April 13
Blue Revs v Spears
Tokyo Sungoliath v Heat
Sagamihara Dynaboars v Verblitz

Sunday, April 14
Brave Lupus Tokyo v Kobe Steelers

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