Preview: Japan vs All Blacks
- 01 Nov 2013
New Zealand will be hoping to get their end-of-year tour off to a resounding start when they take on Japan in Tokyo.
If games against France, England and Ireland are the main course then the match on Saturday is the All Blacks' November starter.
Even with a much-changed line-up that includes two debutants in the XV, the world champions should run away with the win before setting off for Europe.
The new caps are Dominic Bird and Frank Halai, with the latter hoping to carry on the form that saw him finish Super Rugby as its top try-scorer. How the Japanese are going to halt Halai and the rest of this squad is the big question as Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau and Ben Smith may run riot.
While there is an experimental feel to the All Blacks this week, there still remains Richie McCaw and also the return to action of flyhalf Dan Carter. McCaw is moved to No 8 for this game as Kieran Read gets to put his feet up while Bird and Jeremy Thrush line up together for the first time.
An All Blacks clean sweep in this month looks on the cards as one can bet the pain from that 38-21 Twickenham loss of last year is spurring them on inside.
It would be fantastic to see the Brave Blossoms stay in the game for a decent amount of time, but this is the real world and with six wins from six during the Rugby Championship, New Zealand shouldn't have any trouble rolling past their first opponents since that Ellis Park epic.
Japan – 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Toshiaki Hirose, 13 Male Sau, 12 Craig Wing, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Shoji Ito, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Subs: 16 Yusuke Aoki, 17 Yusuke Nagae, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Luke Thompson, 20 Takashi Kikutani, 21 Kosei Ono, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yoshikazu Fujita.
All Blacks – 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Richie McCaw (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Photo: Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
Expectations must be managed
The inevitable delays and lack of clarity around the likely restructuring of the Springbok coaching team means that expectations have to be realigned ahead of the 2018 season, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Ioane a man apart
All Blacks wing Rieko Ioane was the world’s best in 2017, writes MARC HINTON.
Flyhalf competition is building
South African rugby’s flyhalf stocks are looking a lot healthier heading into 2018, writes CRAIG LEWIS.