Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan captain Michael Leitch dropped to bench for Ireland clash

Michael Leitch.
Michael Leitch. Photo credit: Image: Getty

Japan left captain Michael Leitch out of their starting team for Saturday's Rugby World Cup clash with Ireland as a fit-again Amanaki Mafi took his place in the back row as one of five changes from their opening day win over Russia.

With winger Kenki Fukuoka still unavailable with a calf injury, Ryohei Yamanaka comes in at fullback as Will Tupou shifts to the wing and Lomano Lemeki drops to the bench.

Elsewhere in the pack, Luke Thompson replaces Wimpie van der Walt in the second row, Jiwon Koo and Shota Horie come into the front row and Kazuki Himeno moves to flanker to make room for Mafi at No.8.

South Africa-born flanker Lappies Labuschagne will captain the side in Leitch's absence.

Team to take on Ireland

Japan:Ryohei Yamanaka, Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Will Tupou, Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno, James Moore, Luke Thompson, Jiwon Koo, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki.

Reserves: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Michael Leitch, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Lomano Lemeki.