South Korea host Japan in battle of last remaining unbeaten teams in HSBC Asian 5 Nations Top 5
Japan v Korea in Seoul (Asia5Nations)
Preview from Sean Moore, Asia RFU.
[May 12, 2012, SEOUL]: The last remaining unbeaten teams in this year’s HSBC Asian 5 Nations Top 5 will face off tomorrow as South Korea hosts Japan at Seongnam Stadium in Seoul (kick-off at 13.00 local time). Tomorrow’s match promises to be another thriller in this long-standing rivalry between Asia’s traditional rugby powerhouses.
Eddie Jones goes into Saturday’s HSBC Asian Five Nations clash with South Korea having had to alter his plans.
The Japan coach said the Koreans shock 21-19 over Hong Kong last weekend had forced him to make a few changes to the squad that he originally planned to take with him to Seoul.
“I had hoped to take a few more fringe players,” he said. “But we changed that idea when we heard the result from Hong Kong.”
As a result Jones has recalled a trio of Rugby World Cup veterans and dropped some of the youngsters who have helped Japan continue its unbeaten run in the competition.
Michael Leitch, Hirotoki Onozawa, who both started the opener against Kazakhstan, both return to the walk-on XV, while Atsushi Hiwasa, last year’s HSBC Asian 5 Nations Emerging Player of the Year award winner, is named on the bench following his return from France.
“Playing South Korea away and with them on a high after last weekend, we need all the experience we can get,” Jones said.
Onozawa’s recall means there is no place in the 22-man squad for Japan’s youngest ever international Yoshikazu Fujita, who scored six tries on debut against the United Arab Emirates.
“Fujita did well against a weak team,” said Jones. “He is a player of the future.”
Youth also gave way at halfback with Hiwasa’s return meaning there is no place for Keisuke Uchida in the squad.
“Uchida is a good young kid - kid being the operative word,” said Jones. “Hiwasa had a good season for Suntory and has had a good experience at Stade Francais.”
Jun Fujii’s good form, however, means Hiwasa starts the game among the replacements.
Fujii will partner Kosei Ono at halfback, with Harumichi Tatekawa and Tomohiro Senba retaining their spots in midfield.
Toshiaki Hirose leads the side from the right wing, with Onozawa on the left and the in-form Ayumu Goromaru at fullback.
In the forwards, Yusuke Nagae returns to the front row in place of Hidetatsu Tsuboi, who drops out of the match-day 22, with Kensuke Hatakeyama shifting back to tight head prop from the loose head spot.
Hooker Ryuhei Arita and lock Hitoshi Ono and Shinya Makabe all keep their places as does blindside flanker Yuta Mochizuki.
Takamichi Sasaki, meanwhile, shifts back to openside flanker and Leitch is named at No. 8, meaning there is no place for Daiki Hashimoto.
“Yuta did well last week, Takamichi’s best position right now is 7 and Leitch is a skillful player that we want to play 6 or 8,” Jones said of the back row.
There are two other changes on the bench, in addition to the recall of Hiwasa. Hiroshi Yamashita is named as the replacement prop, while Yu Tamura will be a reserve back.
South Korea meanwhile has had to make adjustments of its own as key lock, You Young Nam, one of South Korea’s premier Japan-based professional players, has had to withdraw from the squad due to injury. That change will see captain Youn Kwon Woo move from the flanker spot into the tight five to help stabilize the scrum tomorrow.
On the positive side of the ledger for the forward pack is the return of mobile No. 8 Han Gun Kyu from injury.
Canny fly-half Oh, Youn Hyung has also failed to recover from a knock received against Hong Kong last week and makes room for Park, Hong Sik, while the 19-year old Jang, Sung Min of Korea University comes into the replacement bench with a chance at earning his first cap.
The remainder of South Korea’s backline remains unchanged after a strong display, particularly from centre Kim Nam Wook and the back three of Kim Gwong Min, Cho In Soo and Kim Won Yong.
Korea coach Seo, Chu Oh addressed the injury concerns saying, “It makes it a bit more difficult facing Japan without You Young Nam and our first choice fly half but we still have a lot of strong leadership on the field and we will be relying on players like scrum-half Yang Young Hun to help steady the team on the field.
“Our main focus is on our own performance no matter who our opponent is. We are entering the match with a very positive mindset after the game against Hong Kong.
We are excited at the opportunity to play against a fully Japanese team and will be relying on the home ground advantage and the emotional and psychological lift that comes when Korea plays Japan to help feed our aggressive style of play.
“We admit that in most every department Japan are better than us because they have a professional infrastructure and league in Japan. We don’t deny the realities of this. Our only advantage is in the Korean character and our never say die attitude and that is what we will be bringing into tomorrow’s match,” added Coach Seo.
The match will kick-off tomorrow, Saturday, May 12, at Seongnam Stadium at 13.00. Viewers around Asia can watch it live on ESPN Star Sports while the match will also be carried live terrestrially by SBS ESPN. Viewers outside of Asia can also watch all of the Top 5 matches by live streaming at ustream.tv.
Last Five Encounters
01.05.2012 Japan 71-13 in Daegu (Asia5Nations)
16.05.2009 Japan 80-6 in Osaka (Asia5Nations)
26.04.2008 Japan 39-17 in Seoul (Asia5Nations)
22.04.2007 Japan 82-0 in Tokyo (Asia Nations Div.1)
25.11.2006 Japan 54-0 in Hong Kong (WCQ Asia R3; 20th Asia Champs.)
Korea last defeated Japan in 2002, winning 45-34 in Pusan for the gold medal at the Asia Games. They drew 19-19 in 2004 in Tokyo.
GWC Rugby Rankings
Japan 1st, Korea 2nd
IRB Ranking Points
Japan 70.45, Korea 54.97
Prediction: Japan by 39 points
|14||Toshiaki Hirose (Capt.)||Toshiba|
|2||Ryuhei Arita||Coca Cola|
|1||Yusuki Nagae||Chugoku Electric Power|
|16||Takeshi Kizu||Kobe Steel|
|17||Hiroshi Yamashita||Chugoku Electric Power|
|18||Shoji Ito||Kobe Steel|
|19||Yusaku Kuwazuru||Coca Cola|
|20||Atsushi Hiwasa||Stade Français, France|
|HEAD COACH: Eddie Jones|
|15||Kim, Wong Yong|
|14||Choo, In Soo|
|13||Park, Noo Hoon|
|12||Kim, Nam Wook|
|11||Kim, Gwong Min|
|10||Park, Hong Sik|
|9||Yang, Youn Hun|
|8||Han, Gun Kyu|
|7||Kim, Hyun Soo|
|6||Lee, Kwang Moon|
|5||Park, Soon Chai|
|4||Youn, Kwon Woo (Capt.)|
|2||Shin, Young Jin|
|1||Yeo, You Jay|
|16||Kim, Yin Woong|
|17||Kim, Sung Hwan|
|18||Kim, Young Nam|
|19||Lee, Yong Seung|
|20||Park, Wan Yong|
|22||Jang, Sung Min|
|HEAD COACH: Seo, Chun-Oh|