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First club title ever up for grabs for Marx

JAPAN LEAGUE PREVIEW: Springbok internationals and Rugby World Cup certainties, Malcolm Marx, Damien de Allende and Lood de Jager will be on show when Kubota Spears aim for their first national championship in the 2022-23 Japan Rugby League One final.

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Standing in their way is a Wild Knights outfit that is bidding for its third consecutive Japanese title since competition resumed after the Covid-19 pandemic, and its seventh since the old Top League was inaugurated in 2003

Marx, who is in his second season with Kubota, might be the world’s best hooker but astonishingly, he has never won a top-tier professional club title, either in Super Rugby with the Lions, or since he took his career to Japan.

The 28-year-old may never get a better chance than on Saturday where the Spears will be relying on his physicality around the field, but also his nose for the try-line.

Last weekend’s five-pointer against Suntory was the 11th from the 15 games the South African has played this season.

(Continue reading below…)

Besides the Springboks in his side, Kubota coach Frans Ludeke has more cards up his sleeve and none more so than backline pivot Bernard Foley.

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The 33-year-old Australian will finish as the competition’s leading point-scorer, starting the final with 187 to his name from 16 games.

Such is the growing logjam among the Wallabies’ options at flyhalf, the final carries huge importance for Foley, not just in guiding his club to a maiden title, but also in potentially stamping his passport on QF (Qantas) 2023 bound for France.

FINAL

Saturday, May 20

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Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights v Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay

THIRD/FOURTH PLAYOFF

Friday, May 19

Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath v Yokohama Canon Eagles

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