Labuschagne returns to lead Japan against Scotland
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has announced his team to take on Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
This will be the first time the two sides meet following their final pool match at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Yokohama.
The Brave Blossoms will be captained by Pieter Labuschagne who returns to the starting line-up after being rested last weekend against Portugal.
Shogo Nakano, who scored on his debut against Portugal receives his second Test cap after being named again at outside centre, while Shinnosuke Kakinaga returns to the matchday 23 for the first time since 2016, being named as reserve prop.
“The team is really looking forward to the Test match on Saturday,” said Joseph. “We’ve had a good week in terms of our preparation and have enjoyed being back in Edinburgh.
“Scotland have really improved since we last played them at the World Cup. They’ve played a lot of Test matches, with two Six Nations and some very strong performance in the lead up to this weekend.
“Their players who were quite young during the World Cup are now senior members of their team and they have changed their game a lot. They’re quite keen to run the ball, which is the way forward.
“We’re expecting a big contest in the loose forwards, where Scotland have shown a lot of improvement. Their back row are strong in defence and at the breakdown, and are very good at jackaling and slowing the ball down.
“We’ll have to be very accurate at the breakdown, but we have an experienced back row in Leitch, Lappies [Pieter Labuschagne] and Himeno, so it’s going to be a big part of the match.”
Japan: 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 13 Shogo Nakano, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Siosaia Fifita, 10 Rikiya Matsuda, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Pieter Labuschagne (captain), 6 Michael Leitch, 5 James Moore, 4 Jack Cornelsen, 3 Asaeli Ai Valu, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Craig Millar.
Replacements: 16 Kosuke Horikoshi, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Ben Gunter, 20 Tevita Tatafu, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Dylan Riley.
Date: Saturday, November 20
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 13.00 (13.00 GMT; 22.00 JST)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Stuart Berry (South Africa)