Friday, 22 November, 2019

Japan prepared for physical battle against Springboks

Jamie Joseph Jamie Joseph represented both New Zealand and Japan during his playing career
Shannon Reynolds | 20 October, 2019, 15:32

There will surely be a sequel on the way after this year's Brave Blossoms reached the quarter-finals for the first time by beating Scotland, and box-office sales could soar through the roof if history repeats itself on Sunday when they face the Springboks again.

"It will probably be something where we will have to match their pace and speed, and try to keep up with the way they play the game".

"What's not so clear is what we're going to do - that's what I'm looking forward to!"

The game naturally has people bringing up "The Brighton Miracle" - Japan's shock win at the World Cup four years ago - and its more recent encounter in September in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, won 41-7 by the Springboks.

"I was thinking of urging my teammates to shift focus but there wasn't even the need for that because they're all fired up for the South Africa game". And the Springboks because. well, it's better forgotten by the two-time World Cup champions.

"Both teams had different things on their mind", Brown said of the more recent game.

Japan has outright speed out wide, with Matsushima tied as the leading tryscorer in the tournament so far with five and Kenki Fukuoka's match-winning double against Scotland raising his tally to four.

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"I've renamed that Test match as a warm-up for South Africa and rehearsal for us, and that's something that no other team in the World Cup quarter-finals have had and I think that's going to be a benefit for us", he said. "Tomorrow is a completely different game, a one-off quarterfinal, victor goes on and loser bows out so it's exciting".

They had a tough start to the tournament in taking on New Zealand and they fell short in a 23-13 defeat.

The players routinely point to two major factors for their success - preparation and the influence of head coach Jamie Joseph who played for Japan in the 1999 World Cup.

"The players have really taken over", Joseph said of the lead-up to the Boks game. Prop Keita Inagaki and flyhalf Yu Tamura were on the bench four years ago but are in the starting lineup for Sunday, while Fumiaki Tanaka and Amanaki Lelei Mafi are again on the bench.

"It's something we are always ready to do, if it is time to do it". "I think we have made a good impact, not just in the rugby world, but in the entire sporting world".

"We come from a lot of different backgrounds, but we have all come together as one team, all working toward the same goal", Labuschagne said of the Japan team. Everyone talks about it but we're a different team, different players.

The Australian said: "Japan beating South Africa?". We want to make everyone in Japan proud, everyone in this camp, this group. If they do it again, by its very nature, it won't come as much as a surprise but in a World Cup on home soil in which the Brave Blossoms have already excelled themselves it would be a monumental moment for the sport.

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