Springbok star Pieter-Steph du Toit has been named to make his Japan Rugby League One debut for Toyota Verblitz this weekend.
After months without action due to a shoulder injury, Du Toit will start on the blind flank against Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath at Ajinomoto Stadium on Sunday.
The game will be Du Toit’s first competitive rugby game since South Africa’s first victory in their series against the British and Irish Lions in July.
It will also be Toyota’s first game of the 2022 campaign after their opener against the Shizuoka Blue Revs was canceled following an outbreak of Covid-19 in the Blue Revs team.
Du Toit will be joined by fellow debutant and the All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu in an all-star attacking pack that also includes open-flanked Brave Blossoms star Kazuki Himeno and former Chiefs lockout Michael Allardice at second.
There’s also a sense of familiarity in the backline, where Japan internationals Will Tupou, Male Sa’u, Jamie Henry and Kaito Shigeno, along with fellow South African pivot Lionel Cronje, have all been named to start. while former Chiefs playmaker Tiaan Falcon will be on the bench.
Together Team Toyota will be tasked with picking up their first win of the year against a Suntory side that ran in seven tries in their 60-46 win over Toshiba Brave Lupus in Tokyo last weekend.
Star full-back Damian McKenzie played a crucial role in the victory, scoring 25 points from the boot and providing plenty of assists, and he has since been rewarded with a second straight start in the No.15 shirt.
Loose Wallabies striker Sean McMahon was also retained at No 8 for Suntory after winning two tries last week, as was barnstorming Australian center Samu Kerevi and nominee for the 2021 World Rugby Player of the Year.
Likewise, Brave Blossoms star Yutaka Nagare retains his place at full-back, while the attacking squad remain bolstered by the selection of Japan international Hendrik Tui and former Reds lock Harry Hockings. in second place.
There’s also plenty of firepower on Suntory’s bench, which includes Brave Blossoms duo Tevita Tatafu and Naoto Saito, as well as former Blues and Highlanders wing Tevita Li.
Suntory’s clash with Toyota is the only Division 1 game to take place on Sunday after games between the Saitama Wild Knights and Green Rockets Tokatsu, as well as the Black Rams Tokyo and Shizuoka Blue Revs, were canceled due to the outbreaks. of Covid-19.
However, the Division 2 match between the Mie Honda Heat and the Kamaishi Seawaves will go ahead as scheduled at Suzuka, with a Test on All Blacks front five Brett Cameron set to make his debut for the visiting Kamaishi side.
Cameron will face the likes of former All Blacks fullback Matt Duffie and ex-Reds, Waratahs, Western Force and Worcester Warriors stalwart Jono Lance, who will both be leaving for Honda.
Suntory Sungoliath vs. Toyota Verblitz
Suntory Sungoliath: 1. Shintaro Isihara, 2. Kosuke Hirokoshi, 3. Kan Nakano, 4. Hendrik Tui, 5. Harry Hockings, 6. Kenji Shimokawa, 7. Naoki Ozawa, 8. Sean McMahon, 9. Yutaka Nagare, 10. Hikaru Tamura, 11. Shogo Nakano, 12. Ryoto Nakamura, 13. Samu Kerevi, 14. Seiya Ozaki, 15. Damian McKenzie. Reservations: 16. Shunta Nakamura, 17. Yukio Morikawa, 18. Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19. Takayasu Tsuji, 20. Tevita Tatafu, 21. Naoto Saito, 22. Hideto Naguma, 23. Tevita Li.
Toyota Verblitz: 1. Shogo Miura, 2. Yoshikatsu Hikosaka, 3. Yusuke Kizu, 4. Michael Allardice, 5. Patrick Tuipulotu, 6. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 7. Kazuki Himeno, 8. Fetuani Lautaima, 9. Kaito Shigeno, 10. Lionel Cronje, 11 years old. Jamie Henry, 12 years old. Male Sa’u, 13 years old. Charlie Lawrence, 14 years old. Yuki Okada, 15 years old. Will Tupou. Reservations: 16. Ryusei Kato, 17. Gaku Shimizu, 18. Runya Che, 19. Kyo Yoshida, 20. Masato Furukawa, 21. Kenta Fukuda, 22. Tiaan Falcon, 23. Dai Ozawa.
Honda Heat vs. Kamaishi Seawaves
Honda Heat: 1. Tatsuhiko Tsurukawa, 2. Lee Seung Hyok, 3. Matthys Basson, 4. Viliami Kaipouli, 5. Tetuhi Roberts, 6. Kasuke Hattori, 7. Ryo Furuta, 8. Paddy Butler, 9. Kenta Yamaji, 10. Oh Gwang Tee, 11. Kanta Omata, 12. Jono Lance, 13. Soki Watanabe, 14. Nobutaka Ubukata, 15. Matt Duffie. Reservations: 16. Shota Nishizawa, 17. Hayato Akahira, 18. Taiki Yoshioka, 19. Masaki Kondo, 20. Ryota Kobayashi, 21. Shogo Nezuka, 22. Park Song Gi, 23. Kanta Watanabe.
Kamaishi Waves: 1. Tomoki Nobeta, 2. Kan Yoshina, 3. Shinki Ushikubo, 4. Charlie Matthews, 5. Ben Nee-Nee, 6. Yuta Nakano, 7. Naoki Ono, 8. Yuto Oeda, 9. Atsushi Minami, 10. Brett Cameron, 11. Kodai Ono, 12. Gerdus van der Walt, 13. Katsuto Hatamaka, 14. Taisei Fukikoshi, 15. Yuju Takizawa. Reservations: 16. Daiki Ito, 17. Takuya Takahashi, 18. Morgan Mitchell, 19. Ryunosuke Yamada, 20. Shoji Misaki, 21. Yohei Murakami, 22. Cameron Bailey, 23. Yutaro Murai.
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