Lappies Labuschagne has been named in Japan’s starting lineup to take on the Springboks in Kumagaya on Friday.
The former Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls loose forward now plies his trade in Japan for the Sunwolves and Kubota Spears, while he also represents the national Test team.
Meanwhile, the controversial Amanaki Mafi will start at the back of the scrum, with captain Michael Leitch playing at openside.
Coach Jamie Joseph said he selected his best possible lineup for this warm-up because he wants to measure his team’s performance against the best.
‘I’ve faced a lot of questions about if I think it’s a risky game before the World Cup, but unless we play the best teams, we’ll never get a true measure of where we are,’ he explained.
He also praised his counterpart Rassie Erasmus for selecting a strong team for the game.
‘We’re elated that coach Erasmus has picked what I think is their strongest lineup. It shows respect and it gives our players something to look forward to.’
In the only previous encounter between these sides, Japan shocked the Springboks 34-32 in a pool game at the 2015 World Cup.
Japan – 15 William Tupou, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch (c), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Koo Ji-won, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Subs: 16 Takuya Kitade, 17 Isileli Nakajima, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 James Moore, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Yutaka Nagare, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ataata Moeakiola.
Photo: Toru Hanai/Getty Images