Monday, June 17, 2024
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Leitch banned, Masirewa, Naikabula return to wings

World Rugby has handed three match suspensions to veteran Japan flanker Michael Leitch, who shares links to Fiji, following his red card in their 24-22 loss to Samoa last week.

Leitch produced a high tackle on Tonga’s So’otala Fa’aso’o as Japan led the match 10-3 at the time of his sending off – in the 30th minute – but went on to lose the Test 24-22.

World Rugby added that Leitch could return one week prior if he completes the Coaching Intervention Programme.

“The player accepted that foul play occurred and that the offending warranted a red card,” the statement read.

“The Committee noted that the offence carries a mandatory mid-range sanction (six matches), and having considered the mitigating factors, reduced the sanction by the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent. The final sanction of three matches is to be applied as follows:

“The player intends to apply to take part in the World Rugby Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of the sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.”

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has today named his Brave Blossoms side to take on Tonga on Saturday with the returns of Fijians Semisi Masirewa and Jone Naikabula to the starting 15.

The back-three sees Masirewa on the left-wing, while Naikabula once again slots in on the right-wing and the ever-reliable Ryohei Yamanaka starts at fullback.

Japan will face Tonga at 10pm at Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka.

The teams:

Japan:  Ryohei Yamanaka, Jone Naikabula, Dylan Riley, Tomoki Osada, Semisi Masirewa, Seungsin Lee, Naoto Saito, Kazuki Himeno Ben Gunter, Jack Cornelsen, Uwe Helu, Amato Fakatava, Asaeli Valu, Atsushi Sakate, Keita Inagaki.

Replacements: Shota Horie, Craig Millar, Jiwon Gu, James Moore, Tevita Tatafu, Yutaka Nagare, Rikiya Matsuda, Kotaro Matsushima.

Tonga: Charles Piutau, Solomone Kata, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Pita Ahki, Kyren Taumoefolau, William Havili, Sonatane Takulua (C),  Lopeti Timani, Sione Havili Talitui, Vaea Fifita, Steve Mafi, Halaleva Fifita, Ben Tameifuna, Samuela Moli, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.

Replacements:  Paula Ngauamo, Feao Fotuaika, David Lolohea, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Solomone Funaki, Manu Paea, Otumaka Mausia, George Moala.

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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