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Kotaro Matsushima, who led Japan with five tries at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, made his official debut for French Top 14 side Clermont in a 33-30 win over reigning champion Toulouse on Sunday.

The 27-year-old fullback roused his new home crowd in the early minutes of the season-opener at the Marcel Michelin stadium with a charge that broke through Toulouse’s defensive line and advanced the ball to almost the 22-meter line.

His league debut was cut short, however, when he hurt his right thigh in the 16th minute and was forced off the pitch.

“It had a short time on the ground today but I played well and put on a good show. The fans were cheering like crazy and it’s been a lot of fun playing here,” said Matsushima, who was instrumental in helping the Brave Blossoms reach the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals for the first time last year.

“I came into the match in really good form. I felt like I played perfectly until I got hurt,” he said.

Clermont, which finished as the runner-up in the 2018-2019 campaign before last season was canceled after 17 rounds due to the coronavirus pandemic, will play its next match against Bayonne on Saturday.

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