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Japan wing Fukuoka to miss RWC opener vs Russia

September 10, 2019
South Africa's Handré Pollard (10) and Japan's Kenki Fukuoka (11) battle for the ball during a rugby match at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
South Africa's Handré Pollard (10) and Japan's Kenki Fukuoka (11) battle for the ball during a rugby match at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan winger Kenki Fukuoka will miss the Rugby World Cup opening match against Russia next week because of a minor calf muscle tear.

Fukuoka pulled up lame in the fourth minute of the 41-7 loss to South Africa last Friday in Kumagaya, the teams’ last warmup for the tournament.

It was a grade one tear in the right calf which will sideline the regular starter for about four weeks.

He will miss the tournament opener against Russia on Sept. 20 in Tokyo, the Japan Rugby Football Union said on Tuesday, and could be fit in time for their second Pool A game against Ireland on Sept. 28.

No. 8 Amanaki Lelei Mafi injured his right shoulder against the Springboks and came off, too, but Japan expects him to be available for the Russia match.

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