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Japan's leaders can inspire win: Brown

Ambition: Tony Brown is aiming for quarter-final spot
Ambition: Tony Brown is aiming for quarter-final spot

By Graham Davies

Japan attack coach Tony Brown believes having "two captains" will help their World Cup hopes.

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The Brave Blossoms stunned Ireland to win their Pool A clash 19-12 last weekend and return to action against Samoa in Toyota City today.

Michael Leitch returns to the back row after starting on the bench against Ireland, although Pieter Labuschagne retains the captaincy.

"I think 'Lappies' and Leitch are both outstanding leaders," Brown said.

"Lappies has been fully fit and playing fine in every game so far.

"Michael has been in and out of the team this year so Lappies is a natural guy to take over.

"With the two captains running the team it will help the performance of the team and keep us sharp under pressure."

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Japan are targeting a first World Cup quarter-final after falling at the group stage four years ago despite winning three matches.

Beating Samoa would put them in a strong position to reach the last eight ahead of their final pool game against Scotland tomorrow week.

"It's been four years of hard work around our attack, building a skill set and being able to execute under real pressure," Brown said. "Playing all the Tier One teams in the last four years helps the players to adapt to the extra pressure and more physicality.

"I think our players always expect to execute everything they do on the field."

Japan coach Jamie Joseph has also recalled hooker Atsushi Sakate and second-row Wimpie van der Walt.

Seilala Lam is one of six changes to the Samoa side beaten 34-0 by Scotland, the hooker joining his brother Jack, the captain and number eight, in the Pacific Islanders' line-up.

The squad received a special guest on Thursday as Samoa's Prime Minister Aiono Sailele visited them at their training camp.

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