RWC2019: Erasmus makes 13 changes for Springboks’ match vs. Japan

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KUMAGAYA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 06: South African players line up for the national anthem prior to the international match between Japan and South Africa at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium on September 6, 2019 in Kumagaya, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
KUMAGAYA, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 06: South African players line up for the national anthem prior to the international match between Japan and South Africa at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium on September 6, 2019 in Kumagaya, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

South Africa rugby coach Rassie Erasmus made 13 changes to the starting lineup in preparation for the Springboks’ matchup against Japan in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The lineup that will play Japan is the same one that beat Italy 49-3 in the Springboks’ third Pool B game.

With the exception of Vincent Koch and Lood de Jager, the rest of the players were in the team that beat Japan 41-7 in the Boks’ final warmup match in Kumagaya in early September. Jesse Kriel and Trevor Nyakane, the two players who are missing, were ruled out of the tournament through injury.

Erasmus, as he did for the game against Italy, named a substitutes bench with six forwards and two backs.

Winger Chelsin Kolbe and scrum-half Herschel Jantjies on Wednesday both declared themselves 100 percent ready for the game following doubts over injuries. Kolbe will start on the wing while Jantjies is one of the two backs on the bench.

Vodacom Bulls player Duane Vermeulen will play in his 50th Test match as a Number 8, the most by a Springbok player.

Handré Pollard will be hoping to score two tries so as to equal the career record of eight tries as a flyhalf held by Morné Steyn.

The quarterfinal, the first-ever for the hosts, is a repeat of the Pool B game at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in which Japan stunned South Africa 32-34. The win, widely regarded as the greatest Rugby World Cup shock, was Japan’s first win against a Tier 1 nation.

Two-time champions South Africa are aiming to reach the Rugby World Cup semifinals for the fifth time.

The winner will play the winner of the other quarterfinal between France and Wales match in Yokohama on October 27.

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