Japan

Jones to take Japan to new heights

Mon, 26 Dec 2011 00:00
2501-0-0-0_2648972

Eddie Jones has replaced All Blacks legend John Kirwan as head coach of Japan and has set his sights on beating the world champion All Blacks at the next World Cup.

Jones, who took Australia to the 2003 World Cup Final, vowed to make the Brave Blossoms one of the world's best rugby teams by the 2015 World Cup in England.

"Our target is to be in the top 10," the 51-year-old Australian, who also formed part of the World Cup-winning Springbok coaching team in 2007, said as the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) announced his appointment to the job for four years from next April.

"We need to develop the style of play that suits Japanese players, that allows us to beat countries (like) Scotland and Wales," said Jones.

"We'll quickly identify 30 or 40 players that we are going to (take to) the next World Cup, get them to understand the Japanese way of rugby. It's going to be a very exciting four years."

Asian champions Japan's best world ranking was 12th in mid-2010. They are currently ranked 15th under All Blacks legend John Kirwan.

"The first thing we have to do is to have a very good set-piece. So we got to be technically good. We got to be smart. And we got to be inventive."

He added his side should "use the ball creatively... and always keep the opposition guessing."

Jones, whose mother is half Japanese and whose wife is Japanese, has been managing the country's Top League side Suntory Sungoliath since 2009.

In the 2010-2011 season, Suntory finished runners-up in the Top League and won the separate national championship under Jones. This season they are currently leading the Top League after eight straight wins.

Jones said it will be necessary for the Blossoms to play strong sides in "important test matches."

"So over three years, we'll play Scotland or Wales at (Tokyo's) Chichibunomiya ground," he said.

He emerged as Kirwan's likely successor after Japan came home winless from the World Cup in New Zealand.

Japan will host the World Cup in 2019 and will be looking to avoid the embarrassment of becoming the first host country to fail to make the knock-out stages.

Kirwan failed to break the Brave Blossoms' 20-year World Cup win drought at the New Zealand tournament. He opted not to seek a new contract when his current five-year deal expires at the end of this month.

Jones said he might not use so many foreign-born players in his squad as Kirwan did.

Kirwan picked a record 10 foreign-born players, half of whom have obtained Japanese nationality, for his World Cup squad. The previous highest was seven, also selected by the New Zealander for the tournament's 2007 edition.

"The colour of the team is going to be Japanese," Jones said, adding he would still use foreign talent if they proved useful.

He said under his leadership the Brave Blossoms would be aiming to win all their matches.

"Definitely, we want to beat the All Blacks at the next World Cup," he said. "Realistically, we know that might be difficult. But that's how we got to think," he said.

AFP

RELATED ARTICLES