Boks v All Blacks take centre stage in Japan
JAPAN LEAGUE ONE, ROUND TWO PREVIEW: There will be some interesting battles between Springbok and All Black stars in Round Two of the Japan Rugby League One.
Many of those battles will occur in a match between the Eagles and Verblitz in Kanagawa on Saturday.
After facing each other in the World Cup Final not too long ago, rival scrumhalves Aaron Smith (Verblitz) and Faf de Klerk (Eagles) will be going head-to-head again.
Their international teammates, flyhalf Beauden Barrett (Verblitz) and centre Jesse Kriel (Eagles) will also be suiting up in that match.
However, Smith and Barrett will have a big Bok World Cup winner on their side in the form of Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The match between Tokyo Sungoliath and Brave Lupus will also be an intriguing one.
All Black stars Richie Mo’unga and Shannon Frizell play for Brave Lupus, while Sungoliath will be hoping Cheslin Kolbe will be able to weave some magic on the field.
Meanwhile, the Steelers will be aiming to back up their success against Mie Heat on the opening day as they travel to Suzuka on Sunday to face the Blue Revs.
New skipper Brodie Retallick will once again be looking to play a leading role.
Appointed captain by his old Chiefs’ Super Rugby boss Dave Rennie, the All Black centurion scored two tries last weekend.
It took the lock’s tally in Japan to seven from 10 matches, after he finished his maiden season with the club three years ago with five from nine games.
Ardie Savea also scored two tries on his Japan Rugby League One debut but while he missed going head-to-head with Pablo Matera last weekend, visiting Shizuoka will allow him to reacquaint himself with long-time Springbok sparring partner, and Blue Revs skipper, Kwagga Smith.
The pair also last crossed paths when Smith, whose try last weekend took his tally in Japan to 16 from 23 matches, came off the bench for South Africa in the World Cup Final.
The Blue Revs, who had a disappointing opening to the campaign, falling 30-43 against Brave Lupus, were better on the road than on home soil last term, winning just twice, with a draw and six defeats from their matches at Yamaha Stadium.
Japan Rugby League One Fixtures Round Two (all Japan time):
Saturday, December 16:
Mie Heat v Spears – 12.10
Black Rams Tokyo v Sagamihara Dynaboars -13.00
Eagles v Verblitz – 14.30
Sunday, December 17
Liners v Wild Knights – 12.00
Blue Revs v Kobe Steelers – 14.00
Tokyo Sungoliath v Brave Lupus – 14.30
Saturday, December 16
Red Hurricanes Osaka v Seawaves – 14.30
D-Rocks v Voltex – 14.30
Aichi v Green Rockets Tokatsu – 14.30
Saturday, December 16:
Hiroshima v Gush Akishima – 13.00
‘Japan is currently four hours behind Auckland, eight ahead of South Africa and Western Europe, and nine ahead of the United Kingdom and Ireland.