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French philosopher Albert Camus once said “You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.” It’s something the Japan national rugby team will understand Saturday as it takes on Argentina at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in its first test under new coach Jamie Joseph.

The Brave Blossoms go into the game with 13 uncapped players on the 23-man squad and just 348 caps between them. By contrast the Pumas — semifinalists at last year’s Rugby World Cup — have 691 caps and not a single debutant on their squad.

Multiple withdrawals and a limited build-up have meant Joseph’s debut as Japan coach is truly set to be a baptism of fire.

But the former New Zealand and Japan international remained upbeat Friday.

“I think we have had a great week preparing the team,” he said. “It all comes down to how the players perform but I am confident they will give their absolute best.”

His Argentine counterpart Daniel Hourcade, meanwhile, has named a strong starting line-up, making just four changes to the side that lost to the Wallabies at Twickenham, England, four weeks ago.

Facundo Isa and Tomas Lezana replace Leonardo Senatore and Pablo Matera at No. 8 and blindside flanker, respectively, while in the backs Nicolas Sanchez returns at flyhalf and Santiago Cordero is back on the left wing.

Much has been made about the size difference between the two sides.

Yet the average weight of the Brave Blossoms forwards is 108.5 kg compared with the Pumas’ 109.3 kg.

The difference in height, however is 5 cm (189.5 to 184.2) and this is an area Japan hope to exploit, using its smaller stature to drive in low and then up at the breakdown and make use of the chop tackle in open play.

“We can’t let them just run through our defense. The chop style and the double tackle (with some going in high to stop the offload) will be key,” fullback Kotaro Matsushima told Kyodo News earlier this week.

With both teams looking to play an expansive game, the visitors are wary they must also defend well.

“Japan is a good team. They move fast and play wide. I think our defense will be key,” said Pumas captain Agustin Creevy, who led the Jaguares when they were beaten 36-28 by the Sunwolves at the same stadium back in April.

While all of the Argentina side — besides Tomas Cubelli, who plays for the Brumbies — is with the nation’s Super Rugby side, just six of the Japan squad suited up for the Sunwolves.

As a result neither side is paying too much importance to what happened seven months ago.

“It’s not about revenge, it’s about performance,” said Argentina assistant coach Pablo Bouza.

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