TOKYO, 15 Oct - South Africa may have to come up with some new calls for the quarter-final against Japan at Tokyo Stadium on Sunday.
"Normally when we speak Afrikaans, it's an advantage as the opposition don't understand," said Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick.
But three of the Brave Blossoms have played professional rugby in South Africa – flanker Pieter ‘Lappies’ Labuschagne, second-row Wimpie van der Walt and right-winger Kotaro Matsushima.
"Now they've got Lappies, Wimpie and surprisingly the winger (Matsushima), who was born in South Africa. So, they will probably have some inside communication from our camp," said Stick.
Labuschagne played Super Rugby with some of the current Boks, such as Willie le Roux, and was even part of a Springbok squad in 2013. But he did not play a test for South Africa, and eventually moved to Japan in 2016.
He made such an impact at the Kubota Spears and the Sunwolves that he was made Brave Blossoms' captain for the crucial Pool A match against Ireland, which Japan won 19-12, and the 38-19 victory over Samoa.
He has made the second-highest number of tackles at Rugby World Cup 2019 so far with 56, behind Samoa’s TJ Ioane on 67.
"It's difficulty to put into words, just really proud of the boys..."@JRFURugby captain Pieter Labuschagne gives humble interview after historic first win over Ireland at #RWC2019#JPNvIRE pic.twitter.com/e2nJaiq5yk— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 28, 2019
Van der Walt played Super Rugby for the Southern Kings and the Bulls, but his move to Japan to play for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes has become a permanent one, and he has also turned out for the Sunwolves in Super Rugby.
Matsushima, born to a Japanese mother and Zimbabwean father in Pretoria, featured for the Sharks in provincial rugby in 2013, and signed for the Suntory Sungoliath club in 2014. He is RWC 2019's joint top try-scorer on five, alongside Wales’s Josh Adams.
The South Africa team would have been relieved to see winger Cheslin Kolbe, who has been one of their most exciting players, return to training on Tuesday after he missed their last match against Canada with an ankle injury.
Scrum-half Herschel Jantjies (hamstring) and back row Francois Louw (knee) also participated in the session at the Fuchu Asahi Football Park in Tokyo.
Kolbe will be an important part of the Boks' effort in trying to deal with what Stick said is a "very skilful" Japan side who look to play a high-tempo game.
"We know what Cheslin can bring on the field, and the special player that he is." Stick said.
"Playing against the host nation, we know they are going to be playing with a lot of passion, and the supporters are going to be behind them.
"We could hear the vibe at the stadium at Yokohama (for Japan against Scotland) when watching on TV. It's going to be a tough challenge, as we know how passionate they are and the pride they have behind their team."