World Cup hosts Japan have recalled talismanic leader Michael Leitch as they look to maintain their winning start in Pool A against Samoa.

Leitch returns to the back row after starting on the bench in their surprise win over Ireland, although Pieter Labuschagne retains the captaincy.

Atsushi Sakate starts at hooker and Wimpie van der Walt comes in at lock as coach Jamie Joseph makes three changes.

Shota Horie drops to the bench despite being man of the match against Ireland.

The Brave Blossoms, who top Pool A, are targeting a first World Cup quarter-final after falling in the group stage four years ago, despite winning three matches.

Victory over Samoa at the City of Stadium would put them in a strong position to reach the last eight before facing Scotland in their final Pool A game.

Meanwhile, Samoa have made six changes to the side that failed to score a point in their defeat by Scotland.

Loose-head prop Jordan Lay, second-row Piula Faasalele and fly-half Ulupano Seuteni all make their first starts at the tournament, as does hooker Seilala Lam, who is the brother of captain and number eight Jack.


Japan: Nakayama; Matsushima, Lafaele, Nakamura, Lemeki; Tamura, Nagare; Inagaki, Sakate, Ji-won, Van der Walt, Moore, Leitch, Labuschagne, Himeno

Replacements: Horie, Nakajima, Ai Valu, Helu, Tui, Tanaka, Matsuda, Fukuoka

Samoa: Nanai-; Tuala, Leiua, Taefu, Fidow; Seuteni, Polataivao; Lay, S Lam, Alaalatoa, Faasalel, Le’aupepe, Vui, Ioane, J Lam

Replacements: Niuia, Alo-Emile, Lay, Toleafoa, Tyrell, Cowley, Pisi, Fonotia


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