Fri 11 Nov 2022 | 12:52

England v Japan - teams and prediction

England v Japan - teams and prediction
Fri 11 Nov 2022 | 12:52
England v Japan - teams and prediction

PREVIEW: England captain Owen Farrell has urged his side to shed their fear of failure when they try to revive their November campaign against Japan at Twickenham on Saturday.


Farrell’s men began the year-end campaign with a dispiriting 29-30 loss at home to Argentina last weekend.

Although the initially wet conditions made running rugby difficult, the Pumas still produced the game’s one backline move of genuine quality to send in Emiliano Boffelli – who scored 25 points in total – for a well-taken try.

England, by contrast, were disjointed with scrumhalf Ben Youngs throwing several passes into touch while a stray delivery from inside centre Farrell paved the way for Argentina flyhalf Santiago Carreras’s breakaway try.

Red Rose coach Eddie Jones has responded to England’s second loss to Argentina at Twickenham by making five changes to his starting XV against Japan, another pool opponent at next year’s World Cup in France.

Significantly, Jones dropped Youngs – England’s most-capped player – to the bench and brought in Jack van Poortvliet, who scored a try against the Pumas moments after replacing his fellow Leicester scrum-half last weekend.

But Farrell, set to win his 99th England cap on Saturday, insisted a change of approach was as important as a change in personnel.


“We don’t want to overthink going into this weekend, which maybe we were guilty of a little bit last weekend,” he said after Jones, a former Japan coach, named his matchday 23 on Thursday.

Farrell, the son of Ireland coach Andy Farrell, added: “We want to free ourselves up to be the best version of ourselves…It’s about letting go that bit more and not worrying about everything as much, trying to be as free but in control of the next moment.”

(Continue below …)

Relishing Twickenham ‘cauldron’

Japan coach Jamie Joseph said he was looking forward to seeing his side tackle the challenge of playing England in the “cauldron” of Twickenham.

The match sees the Brave Blossoms up against one of their pool opponents at next year’s World Cup in France, with Japan taking on the tournament hosts in Toulouse on November 20.

But former New Zealand international Joseph insisted he was “not thinking about the World Cup this weekend” as Japan bid for a first Test win over England.


This fixture will be just Japan’s third game at ‘headquarters’ and first since a 15-35 loss four years ago where they led 15-10 at half-time.

“It’s a big game for us, playing England at Twickenham,” Joseph told reporters.

“It’s one of rugby’s biggest challenges for a player.”

“It’s a cauldron at Twickenham and it can be very intimidating if you are not ready for it, but I think our guys are.

“I think they are really excited that they are going to be 23 men representing Japan in front of 80,000 Englishmen.”

Despite England’s loss to Argentina last week, Joseph still played down Japan’s chances.

“I don’t believe we are under pressure. I don’t think anybody expects us to win that game but we’ve got 23 guys who are very motivated to do well.”

Players to watch

For England: England welcome back one of their most prolific finishers, with wing Jonny May included just three weeks after dislocating his elbow playing for club side Gloucester. May, whose 35 tries in 69 Tests are second in England’s all-time list only to retired Rory Underwood’s 49 in 85, received lengthy treatment on the London Irish pitch. And when the 32-year-old left the field with his left arm in a giant brace, it seemed his year-end campaign was over before it had started. But in the latest twist to a see-saw year that has already seen May sidelined with a knee injury and COVID-19, he has been recalled to the starting XV in place of Joe Cokanasiga. Coach Eddie Jones also dropped senior players Billy Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs to the bench. Sam Simmonds replaces Vunipola as the starting No.8, with Guy Porter taking over from Tuilagi at outside centre. Jack van Poortvliet, who scored a try shortly after coming off the bench in place of Youngs during last Sunday’s loss to the Pumas, starts at scrumhalf. Up front, South Africa-born lock David Ribbans makes his Test debut in place of Northampton teammate Alex Coles, who won his first cap last weekend. Jamie George has recovered from a foot injury to provide cover for starting hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.

For Japan: They field a near identical starting XV to the one that suffered a narrow 31-38 loss to New Zealand in Tokyo last month. The only change is a direct swap on the left wing, with Gerhard van den Heever moving into the starting side and Siosaia Fifita dropping to the bench. Atsushi Sakate will once again lead the side from hooker, while a dynamic back row features Kazuki Himeno, former captain Michael Leitch and Tevita Tatafu at No.8. With van den Heever on the left wing, crowd favourite and World Cup hero Kotaro Matsushima covers the right wing. The second row sees the continuation of the emerging locking combination of the towering Warner Dearns alongside Jack Cornelsen. On the bench, Craig Millar retains his position as replacement prop. Second row replacement Wimpie van der Walt and back row replacement Pieter Labuschagne both return to the side after having played a game each for the Japan XV in their recent three-match series against Australia A.

Head to head



@rugby365com: England by 15 points


England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Manu Tuilagi

Japan: 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Takuya Yamasawa, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Tevita Tatafu, 7 Kazuki Himeno, 6 Michael Leitch, 5 Jack Cornelsen, 4 Warner Dearns, 3 Jiwon Gu, 2 Atsushi Sakate (captain), 1 Keita Inagaki,
Replacements: 16 Kosuke Horikoshi, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Yusuke Kizu, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Pieter Labuschagne, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Seungsin Lee, 23 Siosaia Fifita.

Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 15.15 (15.15 GMT, 00.15 Sunday, November 13 Japan time)
Expected weather: Cloudy, changing to sunny by lunchtime – with light winds. High of 17°C and low of 10°C
Referee: James Doleman (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia) & Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

PV: 32