3 South Africans named in Japan's RWC squad

2019-08-29 08:45
Lappies Labuschagne (Getty)

Tokyo - Hosts Japan have named three South African-born players in their 31-man squad for next month's Rugby World Cup.

They are Lappies Labuschagne and Wimpie van der Walt, who both been based in Japan long enough to have earned citizenship, and Kotaro Matsushima.

Matsushima was born in Pretoria and was a part of the Sharks' youth structures before moving to Japan in 2014. 

Head coach Jamie Joseph promised the hosts would "give 150 percent" to reach the World Cup quarter-final after naming his squad on Thursday.

The "Brave Blossoms" will be at full strength when they face Russia in the tournament's curtain raiser in Tokyo on September 20 after talismanic captain Michael Leitch returned from injury at the recent Pacific Nations Cup.

"The team has set a goal of making the top eight for the first time in the history of Japanese rugby," Joseph told reporters.

"The staff and players will give 150 percent - whether that's enough only time will tell.

"Our game is based around speed, skill and structure," added the former All Black.

"But the key difference this year is we are fit enough now to play that game. We're training at a level of intensity that's 25 percent higher than our matches - I think that's our key weapon."

Japan famously won three games at the 2015 World Cup under Eddie Jones, including an astonishing 34-32 victory over two-time champions South Africa.

Currently ranked ninth in the world after capturing their third Pacific Nations title, the Japanese also take on Ireland, Scotland and Samoa in Pool A as they target a place in the knockout stage for the first time.

Japan 201 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (18)

Keita Inagaki, Yusuke Kizu, Koo Ji-won, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Takuya Kitade, Atsushi Sakata, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson, Wimpie van der Walt, Uwe Helu, James Moore, Hendrik Tui, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Michael Leitch (captain), Lappies Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno, Amanaki Mafi

Backs (13)

Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka, Ataata Moeakiola, Lomano Lemeki, William Tupou, Ryoto Nakamura, Timothy Lafaele, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryohei Yamanaka 


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