A former Blue Bulls captain and another two former Bulls and Blue Bulls players are in the World Cup training squad announced by Japan’s coach Jamie Joseph on Thursday.
Nine of the team members were in the squad that surprised and beat South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.
♦ Lappies Labuschagne, who captained the Blue Bulls when he played his rugby in Pretoria in 2015/16, is one of three South African players included in Japan’s training squad for the World Cup that was announced on Thursday.
The flanker, who played 44 Super Rugby matches for the Cheetahs and 27 times for the Free State Cheetahs, represented the Bulls in 22 super matches and played 11 times for the Blue Bulls before joining Kubota Spears in Japan. He captained the cheetahs as well.
Labuschagne was called up to the South Africa squad for the 2013 mid-year rugby union tests against Italy, Scotland and Samoa but didn't feature in any of the matches
♦ Grant Hattin (photo, by GB Jordaan) played 11 matches for Western Province (2) and the Lions (9) before moving to Pretoria where he played 29 times for the Blue Bulls and 46 matches for the Bulls in Super Rugby Bulls before also joining the Kubota Spears in japan.
♦ Wimpie van der Walt played two Currie Cup matches for Western province in 2010 and 2011, played for Eastern Province and the Southern Kings in 17 matches each in 2012 and 2013 and then also moved to Pretoria after a season. He represented the Blue Bulls and Bulls in 2015 before joining NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in Japan.
Hattingh and Labuschagne both uncapped at Test level, made their debuts for the Sunwolves in last year’s Super Rugby tournament.
Japan face Russia in the opening game of the 2019 World Cup on September 20. The other teams in their Pool A are Ireland, Scotland and Samoa.
Japanese training squad ‒
Takuma Asahara, Keita Inagaki, Jiwon Koo, Masataka Mikami, Samuela Anise, Grant Hattingh, Wimpie Van Der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Masakatsu Nishikawa, Michael Leitch, Shunsuke Nunomaki, Kazuki Himeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Kenki Fukuoka, Akihito Yamada, William Tupou, Kotaro Matsushima.