New Zealand vs Japan Match Preview
New Zealand will look to make it two wins in two games when they take on Japan in the Rugby World Cup 2011 at Hamilton
Has had to make changes
After a good start to their Rugby World Cup 2011 campaign, New Zealand will look to make it two wins in two, when they play Japan at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Friday, September 16 this year.
The two teams go into the game with a wholesale of changes. Of course, the reasons are different! The All Blacks are probably looking to get their best players in shape for the sterner tests ahead, especially against France, in a game that will decide who tops the Pool A.
On the other hand, Japan will know that they have an added incentive of trying to finish third in the group and directly qualify for the next edition of the World Cup in 2015.
To do that, they will need to overcome their poor record in the previous World Cups, where they have won only a single game so far. Beating New Zealand would be a far-fetched dream and the coach has wasted no time in allowing the best side a few days off.
Speaking of previous records, Japan have played New Zealand only once before and it had resulted in an embarrassment of sorts. The All Blacks had won 145-17, which is the record for the most points and the second-best victory margin ever in a World Cup match.
Japan have rested 10 of their players from this game, which has meant that captain Takashi Kikutani, will move to the number eight.
New Zealandâ€™s original plan of making seven changes to the side that beat Tonga was laid to rest when, since naming their squad for this game, they have had to replace four players because of injury issues. Richie McCaw, who was all set to become the first ever All Blacks player to get to 100 internationals, had to pull out because of a minor calf strain and Daniel Carter withdrew with back spasms.
Mils Muliaina is also out due to a hamstring strain and this was followed by an injury to Israel Dagg, which leaves the All Blacks with a completely different-looking side for this game.
Japan has made a steady progress with their rugby, and that showed in their 21-47 loss to France, when at one stage, they were just three behind their opponents. New Zealand looked a tad ragged in their 41-10 opening win over Tonga, but it must be said that theirs was the best performance amongst the top nations in the opening fixtures.
Japan: 1. Naoki Kawamata, 2. Yusuke Aoki, 3. Nozomu Fujita, 4. Hitoshi Ono, 5 Toshizumi Kitagawa, 6. Itaru Taniguchi, 7. Michael Leitch, 8. Takashi Kikutani (capt), 9. Atsushi Hiwasa, 10. Murray Williams, 11. Hirotoki Onozawa, 12. Yuta Imamura, 13. Koji Taira, 14. Takehisa Usuzuki, 15. Taihei Ueda.
Reserves: 16. Hiroke Yuhara, 17. Kensuke Hatakeyama, 18. Yuji Kitagawa, 19. Sione Vatuvei, 20. Tomoki Yoshida, 21. Shaun Webb, 22. Alisi Tupuailai.
New Zealand: 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Keven Mealamu (captain), 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brad Thorn, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Adam Thomson, 8. Victor Vito, 9. Andy Ellis, 10. Colin Slade, 11. Richard Kahui, 12. Maâ€™a Nonu, 13. Conrad Smith, 14. Cory Jane, 15. Isaia Toeava.
Reserves: 16. Andrew Hore, 17. John Afoa, 18. Ali Williams, 19. Anthony Boric, 20. Jimmy Cowan, 21. Piri Weepu, 22. Sonny Bill Williams.