PREVIEW: All Blacks v Japan

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MATCH DETAILS: All Blacks v Japan, Saturday 3 November, 6.45pm (NZT), Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo, Japan.

Played: 3
Won: All Blacks 3, Japan 0
Last time: All Blacks 54, Japan 6 (2 November 2013)

The All Blacks v Japan Test match will be available to live stream to selected countries for FREE thanks to Team All Blacks. Click HERE to see if you can watch in your country.
The All Blacks have made a stack of changes to the team that defeated Australia 37-20 last week in Yokohama with eight new caps ready for their first taste of Test rugby. In the starting fifteen, loose foward Dalton Papalii and mid fielder Matt Proctor will get an early taste of Test action while the other six new faces will debut from the bench: prop Tyrel Lomax, loose forwards Gareth Evans and Dillon Hunt, halfback Mitch Drummond, first five-eighth Brett Cameron and outside back George Bridge. 

This will be the fourth official Test match that Japan have played against the All Blacks, and they have closed the gap on every Test prior. After blowing out to the All Blacks 145-17 at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, Japan were a touch better at the 2011 World Cup in going down 83-7 in Hamilton. Their most impressive effort was in their most recent Test against the All Blacks in 2013. Played in Tokyo, Japan lost the Test 54-6 but were far more competitive than their two previous encounters against the All Blacks. The fans in Tokyo will be hoping for another improved effort this weekend.

With less than a year to go until the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, this Test will cap off two weeks of crucial world cup preparation in Japan for the All Blacks. Last week, the All Blacks played at Yokohama International Stadium – the venue that will host the All Blacks opening game of the tournament along with the two semifinals and the final. This weekend’s Test will be held at the 49,000 capacity Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo. It will hold a number of key games during the tournament, including the All Blacks pool match against Namibia. 

It’s been almost one year since world class hooker Dane Coles last pulled on the black jersey. The 56-Test All Black has battled through knee and calf injuries in 2018 which saw him miss the entire Investec Super Rugby season. After proving his fitness for Wellington in the Mitre 10 Cup, the All Blacks selectors were quick to call Coles back to the All Blacks fold. Codie Taylor has shown his class at hooker during the 2018 season and the return of Coles sets up an interesting challenge for the starting number two jersey with the Rugby World Cup approaching in 2019.
New Zealand are yet to lose on Japanese soil and average 41 points scored per game across their three games there after victories over Australia (2009), Japan (2013) and Australia (2018).

All Blacks (caps in brackets)

1. Ofa Tuungafasi (22) 2. Dane Coles (56) 3. Angus Ta’avao (1) 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (19) 5. Jackson Hemopo (2) 6. Vaea Fifita (7) 7. Dalton Papalii * 8. Luke Whitelock – captain (6) 9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (1) 10. Richie Mo’unga (5) 11. Waisake Naholo (24) 12. Ngani Laumape (8)
13. Matt Proctor * 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder (12) 15. Jordie Barrett (7)
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman (3) 17. Tim Perry (5) 18. Tyrel Lomax * 19. Dillon Hunt * 20. Gareth Evans * 21. Mitch Drummond * 22. Brett Cameron * 23. George Bridge *

1: Keita Ingaki (22) 2: Atsushi Sakate (10) 3: Hiroshi Yamashita (49) 4: Wimpie Van Der Walt (6) 5: Sauela Anise (10) 6: Michael Leitch (56) 7: Kazuki Himeno (6) 8: Hendrik Tui (6) 9: Yutaka Nagare (12) 10: Yu Tamara (51) 11: Kenki Fukoka (27) 12: Tim Lafaele (11) 13: William Tupou (3) 14: Jamie Henry* 15: Ryohei Yamanka (11)
Reserves: Yusuke Niwai (6), Masatak Mikami (33), Asaeli Ai Valu (30), Uwe Helu (9) Isieli Nakajima *, Fumiaki Tanaka (67), Rikiya Matsuda (13), Ryoto Nakamura (13)

All Blacks huddle 1582053429




Andy Burt

Andy Burt is a Wellington-based writer for and co-host of the All Blacks Podcast. He covers all levels of the domestic game in New Zealand and monitors the international game closely.


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