"We respect Japan a lot", says South Africa rugby coach Erasmus

SHOWS: GIFU, JAPAN (SEPTEMBER 3, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH, RASSIE ERASMUS, SAYING:

"I think two things; we respect Japan a lot. We think they are a very good team, who are ranked number nine in the world. The second thing is that we want to prepare for New Zealand, who we play in two weeks' time. But first we play Japan, who beat us the last time, so that is why we have picked a very strong team in respect for Japan."

2. WHITE FLASH

3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH, RASSIE ERASMUS, SAYING:

"The way Japan play is a lot like New Zealand; a speed, high tempo game. They play a loose kind of game and we expect the same kind of game against New Zealand so there are a lot of similarities so that is also one of things we will try to gain out of this game."

4. WHITE FLASH

5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH, RASSIE ERASMUS, SAYING:

"If we manage to go all the way (to the final) then it is a small sacrifice to have one week extra (in Japan). Then these conditions, which we have trained in for three days, I think we will get the benefits from that as it is totally different. We have already felt the heat, the humidity, the ball... Then the other teams, who only arrive next week or the week after that. So I think definitely we will have the benefits. It is only one week extra and we have been together for 10 weeks so it is not a big sacrifice."

STORY: South Africa named a strong side on Tuesday (September 3) for their final World Cup warm-up match against hosts Japan, with head coach Rassie Erasmus viewing Friday's contest as the perfect preparation for their tournament opener against New Zealand.

Erasmus made wholesale changes to the squad from the victory over Argentina last month with captain Siya Kolisi returning at flanker for Friday's (September 6) clash in Kumagaya.

Kolisi's inclusion is the only difference from Erasmus' 23-man squad for the draw with New Zealand in July which means Japan can expect to face the full might of the Spingboks.

Erasmus said he picked a strong squad partially to prepare for the Sept 21 World Cup opener but also because of the respect the Springboks still hold for Japan, who famously beat them in the pool stages in Brighton four years ago.

It is the first time South Africa will face Japan since that embarrassing loss.

The two-time world champions are the first foreign team to arrive in Japan before the World Cup, which begins on Sept. 20.

Erasmus believes this extra time in Japan will help his players deal with the sticky, sweaty conditions likely to prevail in the early stages of the tournament.

(Production: Jack Tarrant)