Japan keen for more Tier One opposition

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Japan won’t be shying away from seeking more Tier One opposition after their loss to the Wallabies, coach Jamie Joseph says.

The Japanese were outsized by their Australian counterparts in the backline especially on Saturday afternoon, a gulf mentioned by Joseph during the week, and the Japan mentor said it was blindingly obvious as players like Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi dominated.

“I thought we were at a disadvantage today with our backs because they were playing bigger men, who were just as fast, more powerful and the space for us was through the middle,” he said.

“So, we saw on numerous occasions, players breaking the line through the middle of the field and that's also part of their game.

“Both teams were guilty of losing the ball in contact, being too slow at the breakdown to secure their own ball, both teams dropped about one-third of their ball but the big area where we struggled was competing with bigger players and Australian players are clearly bigger than us, and they were able to offload a lot more.”

Japan won't be afraid to tackle big opposition. Photo: Getty ImagesJoseph said the clash with Australia was a taste of what to expect from Tier One nations, something Japanese players will need to become accustomed to as they prepare to host a World Cup.

With two years to go, Joseph said they wouldn’t be afraid to take on the top nations, but admitted fans would have to be patient with the side’s improvement.

“One of the questions I keep on asking myself is, ‘Are we better off preparing for the world cup playing weaker teams?’ and the answer is no,” he said.

“I think we're better prepared if we play the stronger teams and therefore we need patience from our public and our fans because I think we're playing pretty good.”

Trailing 35-3 at half-time, Japan scored three tries in the second stanza, nearly besting the Wallabies in that half, a rally that was a big positive for Joseph.

“It was a really disappointing start to the game for us,” he said.

“I thought the second half,  points-wise we were one behind but we showed what we can do, where we can create pressure on the opposition and then be allowed to play our type of rugby.”

Japan has a week’s break before hosting Tonga on November 19 and France on November 26, in their end-of-year internationals.