Japan v France - teams and prediction
ROUND TWO PREVIEW: Japan coach Jamie Joseph said that his team will have to play “smarter” in the second Test against France.
Joseph made three changes to the side that collapsed in the second half against the Six Nations champions last week.
France won the first Test in Toyota 42-23, after scoring four tries in the second half, stretching away after a spirited Japan had held them 13-all at the interval.
New Zealander Joseph said his team would not abandon their dynamic passing game at Tokyo’s National Stadium on Saturday, but called for his players to find the “control” that escaped them last week.
“We’ve just got to get a bit of balance into our game and make sure that we don’t try to change our game,” he said.
“That’s the way we play the game of rugby but we’ve just got to be a little bit smarter when we have the ball.”
Joseph said Japan had “started overplaying at times” and struggled to cope with the heat in steamy Toyota, which soared to 33 degrees Celsius at kick-off.
Cooler temperatures are forecast for Saturday in Tokyo and Joseph was able to welcome back two players who missed last week’s game after testing positive for Covid.
Scrumhalf Naoto Saito returns to the starting line-up while World Cup veteran hooker Shota Horie was named on the bench.
Joseph shuffled his lock forwards but kept faith at fly-half with the inexperienced Seungshin Lee.
The 21-year-old won only his second cap last week after being drafted in the day before the game when Takuya Yamasawa tested positive for the virus.
“We think he’s got a lot of potential,” Joseph said.
“Giving him another opportunity on the back end of last week is only going to see Lee become a better player faster.”
Japan has not beaten a top-tier team since stunning Ireland and Scotland at the 2019 World Cup, where they reached the quarter-finals as hosts.
France is looking to win their 10th straight Test and Joseph said they will be “very strong” despite bringing an inexperienced squad to Japan.
“They have powerful runners coming through and if they get momentum they’re very hard to stop, which is what they proved last week,” he said.
Spring handed France debut against Japan
France coach Fabien Galthié handed fullback Max Spring his debut in an otherwise unchanged side.
Racing 92 fullback Spring replaces Melvyn Jaminet in the starting line-up to win his first cap at the age of 21.
Spring started and scored a try for the Barbarians in their 52-21 drubbing of England last month and Galthié said his performances had “shown his hunger for the shirt”.
“At Racing 92 he has put together a string of impressive performances,” said the coach.
“He was selected by the Barbarians, where he started at full-back and put in a very impressive performance.”
Galthié added that Spring had “maintained that level in training” with France, even though he had missed the first week after contracting Covid-19.
Galthié retained lock Thomas Jolmes and No.8 Yoan Tanga in the starting line-up after both made their debuts last weekend.
Charles Ollivon, who returned to the side last week after missing the Six Nations through injury, continues as captain.
Japan made life difficult for France in the first half in steamy Toyota, where the heat soared to 33 degrees Celsius (91 Fahrenheit) at kick-off.
Cooler temperatures are forecast for Saturday at Tokyo’s National Stadium and Galthié is wary of a different Japanese approach.
“In the end our strategy was a good one and we succeeding in winning the match but we imagine that Jamie Joseph and his staff will reconsider their tactics,” he said.
Head to head
2022: France won 42-23
2017: France & Japan drew 23-all
2011: France won 47-21
@rugby365com: France by 15 points
France: 15 Max Spring, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Yoram Moefana, 11 Matthis Lebel, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu, 8 Yoan Tanga, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Thomas Jolmes, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Demba Bamba, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Jean-Baptiste Gros.
Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Thomas Lavault, 20 Ibrahim Diallo, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Baptiste Couilloud, 23 Antoine Hastoy.
Japan: 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Shogo Nakano, 11 Siosaia Fifita, 10 Seungshin Lee, 9 Naoto Saito, 8 Jack Cornelsen, 7 Ben Gunter, 6 Michael Leitch, 5 Sanaila Waqa, 4 Warner Dearns, 3 Asaeli Ai Valu, 2 Atsushi Sakate (captain), 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Yukio Morikawa, 18 Yusuke Kizu, 19 Takayasu Tsuji, 20 Tevita Tatafu, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Shane Gates.
Date: Saturday, July 9
Venue: National Stadium, Tokyo
Kick-off: 14.50 (07.50 French time, 05.50 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)