Jones frustrated with ā€˜1950sā€™ Japan

Wed, 24 Oct 2012 16:46
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A frank Eddie Jones vented his frustration over Japan’s rugby development structure as he announced his 30-man squad for next month's tour of Europe.

A frank Eddie Jones vented his frustration over Japan’s rugby development structure as he announced his 30-man squad for next month's tour of Europe.

The former Wallaby coach, who took charge of the Brave Blossoms in April, said the country’s poor development structure made it ‘impossible’ for him to integrate young players into the national set-up.

"I haven't picked any university students as we only have a short preparation and the level of rugby they are playing makes it impossible for them to play Test-match rugby by November 10," Jones told Kyodo news agency.

"I watched a university game at the weekend and it was like I was in a time warp. I thought I was in the 1950s.

"I have to be honest, it's just not rugby. I don't know what they do in training but they have got to change."

Jones added that the players would have to make a mental shift and steel themselves in order for them to reach their goal of becoming a top 10 nation by the 2015 Rugby World Cup.  

"The players that have not made the squad are not doing what they are supposed to be doing in the Top League," Jones said in reference to players playing in the Japanese domestic league.

He highlighted former Wallaby flank George Smith, one of Suntory Sungoliath’s top stars, as a player with the ideal mentality.

"George Smith runs around like he's got spiders on him because no-one wants to tackle him. He should be an inspiration to every back row forward in Japan. He's the same size but he has the highest work rate," Jones said.

"But no-one ever hits him. You need to see that attitude of 'I'm going to smash him,' if you want to make a mark in world rugby."

In announcing his squad, which includes four uncapped players and four foreign-born players, Jones stressed the need to develop an experienced group of players.

"We picked the top 30 players," Jones said, explaining, "We were looking at four factors - historical form, current form, potential to be a top 10 player in the world and for the team to have experience.

"Last spring our first squad had 302 caps. This squad has 556. But if we are to be a contender, to be a top 10 nation by 2015, we need a starting XV with 500-550 caps.

"That means every player has 30 to 40 caps and is able to think under pressure, play under pressure and win under pressure."

Japan, currently ranked 16th in the world, will face 18th-placed Romania on November 10 and 15th-placed Georgia a week later before taking on a Basque select team on November 21 and the French Barbarians - expected to include World Cup-winning England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson - four days later.
Jones said that while it should be a challenging tour, he wanted at least two wins. "The two Tests will be very physical games. The majority of the Romanian and Georgian players play in the French league and if you watch that league they play Test rugby every week."

Since winning a fifth straight Asian Five Nations crown in May, Jones’ Japan endured a winless Pacific Nations Cup campaign and lost two home games against the French Barbarians.

Japan squad:

Forwards: Hisateru Hirashima, Yusuke Nagae, Yusuke Aoki, Shota Horie, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Hiroshi Yamashita, Takuma Asahara, Hitoshi Ono, Shoji Ito, Toshizumi Kitagawa, Michael Broadhurst, Hendrik Tui, Michael Leitch, Daiki Hashimoto, Takashi Kikutani, Ryu Koliniashi Holani.
Backs: Fumiaki Tanaka, Atsushi Hiwasa, Kosei Ono, Harumichi Tatekawa, Yuta Imamura, Akihito Yamada, Tomohiro Senba, Yu Tamura, Go Aruga, Yasuki Hayashi, Hirotoki Onozawa, Toshiaki Hirose, Ayumu Goromaru, Atsushi Tanabe.