LionsWatch: Warburton and Wales will not underestimate Japan

Sam Warburton will re-take the captain's armband on Saturday as Wales prepare to face Japan in Cardiff. [more]

LionsWatch: Warburton and Wales will not underestimate Japan

Sam Warburton will re-take the captain’s armband on Saturday as Wales prepare to face Japan in Cardiff.

The flanker – who led The British & Irish Lions in Australia in 2013 – returned to the Wales fold last weekend in their victory over Argentina but left Gethin Jenkins to take on skipper duties.

Click here to buy your brand new Lions jersey from the Official Store

But with Jenkins rested this weekend, Warburton takes over again for Rob Howley’s men against the Brave Blossoms.

Japan won the last time these two sides met – albeit against a weakened Wales team in the summer of 2013.

Google Ad Manager – In Article

And after Japan’s historic upset of South Africa in last year's World Cup, Warburton and his team-mates are taking Saturday’s clash very seriously.

"If we get a three-point opportunity we'll take it and not be disrespectful and go for the corner," he said.

"We want to play a bit more expansive rugby and score nice tries, but that might not happen at all in the game, it depends how the game goes."
Team news
Rob Howley has changed ten Welsh players from the side that downed Argentina last weekend, recalling three British & Irish Lions in Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate and Alex Cuthbert.

Gareth Anscombe and Lloyd Williams form a new half-back pairing while Liam Williams swaps from wing to full-back with Leigh Halfpenny going the other way.

Rob Howley speaks exclusively to WRUTV about his selections for this Saturday's match against @JRFURugby #WALvJPN #UASeries

— Welsh Rugby Union ? (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 17, 2016

Japan have changed four from the side that beat Georgia last time out, bouncing back from their autumn opening defeat to Argentina, with wingers Akihito Yamada and Kenki Rukuoka both called up.
What they’ve been saying

Sam Warburton (Wales captain): "I think you'll definitely see a reaction from players like Jamie [Roberts] this weekend and players like Dan Lydiate for example.

"There'll be a few of those guys with a bee in their bonnet, but I think that's a good thing."
Jamie Joseph (Japan head coach): "I'm a realist and I know it'll be difficult but having said that, we've got a couple of plans and I think we can create some pressure.

"If we're able to do that the boys will score some tries and it's a funny thing sport and people do some funny things under pressure. Ideally we'll play an expansive game and score some tries."
Head to head
As always, the battle up front will go a long way to deciding this encounter and keep an eye out for hooker Shota Horie and No.8 Amanaki Mafi in the Japan pack.

But it will be intriguing to see what happens out wide as Halfpenny switches to wing for Wales for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup.


The Toulon player was the Lions man of the series in 2013 in the No.15 jersey but Liam Williams will be full-back this weekend.

Halfpenny will have to keep an eye out wide for the recalled Yamada – the 31-year-old was in free-scoring form for the Sunwolves in their inaugural Super Rugby season and has 13 tries in 16 caps for his country.
Key stats
The Wales side contains just three survivors – Liam Williams, Lloyd Williams and James King – from the starting XV when they last faced Japan in 2013 – the Brave Blossoms securing a famous 23-8 victory.

Japan have never won a Test away from home against a current Tier One nation but they have won six of their nine Tests in 2016.
15. Liam Williams (Scarlets) 
14. Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon) 
13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets) 
12. Jamie Roberts (Harlequins) 
11. Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues) 
10. Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 
9. Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues) 

1. Nicky Smith (Ospreys) 
2. Scott Baldwin (Ospreys)
3. Samson Lee (Scarlets) 
4. Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons) 
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 
6. Dan Lydiate (Ospreys) 
7. Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues) 
8. James King (Ospreys) 

16. Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues) 
17. Rhys Gill (Cardiff Blues) 
18. Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues)
19. Jake Ball (Scarlets) 
20. Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby )
21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets) 
22. Sam Davies (Ospreys) 
23. Keelan Giles (Ospreys)
Japan: Matsushima, Yamada, Lafaele, Tatekawa, Fukuoka, Tamura, Tanaka; Nakatani, Horie, Hatakeyama, Kajikawa, Anise, Ilaua, Nunomaki, Mafi
Replacements: Hino, Yamamoto, Ito, Helu, Matsuhashi, Mimura, Uchida, Lotoahea

Previous story LionsWatch: Stage set for Ireland’s All Blacks rematch
Next story LionsWatch: Wales edge to narrow win over Japan