RWC 2023

Fullback Lemeki to make rare start for Japan against Samoa

September 27, 2023 5:36 am

Lomano Lemeki. [Source: Reuters]

Lomano Lemeki will make a first start for Japan in almost two years as one of two changes to their side for the Rugby World Cup Pool D fixture against Samoa, a fixture both need to win in their bid for a quarter-final place.

Lemeki comes in at fullback for Semisi Masirewa, who was forced off early in the 34-12 loss to England in their previous game.

Joseph has made a second backline switch as Dylan Riley takes over from Tomoki Osada at outside centre, but the remainder of the team is unchanged.

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Replacement flyhalf Seungsin Lee will make his World Cup debut if he comes off the bench and will hope to repeat the 17 points he scored against Samoa in Japan’s 24-22 defeat in July.

Wings Jone Naikabula and Kotaro Matsushima make up the back three with Lemeki, while Riley will partner Ryoto Nakamura in the midfield.

Flyhalf Rikiya Matsuda has a 100% success rate off the kicking tee in the World Cup and has scrumhalf Yutaka Nagare alongside him.

Hooker Shota Horie packs down with props Keita Inagaki and Jiwon Gu, Jack Cornelsen and Amato Fakatava are the lock pairing, and flankers Michael Leitch and Pieter Labuschagne are alongside number eight and captain Kazuki Himeno.

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