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Laidlaw and Leitch named captains amid uncertainty over Japan-Scotland clash

Greig Laidlaw has been named as Scotland captain and Michael Leitch will return to skipper Japan if the decisive Rugby World Cup showdown goes ahead on Sunday.

Scotland must beat the hosts to have any chance of reaching the quarter-finals but there is uncertainty over whether the crunch Pool A contest will take place in Yokohama with Typhoon Hagibis approaching.

Gregor Townsend’s men will crash out if the match is cancelled – unless Samoa pull off a shock against Ireland – as both teams will pick up two points apiece for a draw, with a decision to be made by World Rugby on the morning of the game.

Scrum-half Laidlaw was selected to lead Scotland, taking over from John Barclay as Stuart McInally had to settle for a place on the bench along with George Horne, who scored a hat-trick in the rout of Russia on Wednesday.

Laidlaw’s inclusion was one of 12 changes to the side, Finn Russell also returning along with the likes of Jonny Gray, Stuart Hogg and Blade Thomson, but wing Sean Maitland (groin) misses out.

Number eight Leitch replaces Pieter Labuschagne as captain of an experienced Japan side, while hooker Shota Horie, second-row Luke Thompson, wing Kenki Fukuoka and full-back William Tupou get the nod.

There is no place in the squad for wing Lomano Lemeki or second-row Wimpie van der Walt.

 

Japan: William Tupou, Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Kenki Fukuoka, Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Jiwon Koo, Luke Thompson, James Moore, Michael Leitch (captain), Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno.

Replacements: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Uwe Helu, Hendrik Tui, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryohei Yamanaka.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Darcy Graham, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson.

Replacements: Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Pete Horne, Blair Kinghorn.

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