Midfield boost for Japan

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 07:35
Of course we were all worried about Eddie

Japan were given a timely boost ahead of their one-off Test against the world's top-ranked side, New Zealand, in Tokyo on Saturday.

The home side was boosted by the fitness of centre Harumichi Tatekawa, who missed training earlier this week due to a knee injury and had been a doubt for Saturday's game.

With Japan coach Eddie Jones still in hospital recovering from a stroke, assistant Scott Wisemantel could not have been handed a tougher task for his first assignment in charge.

Wisemantel said he was hoping his side could put aside Eddie Jones' illness and put on a performance against the All Blacks that will "make the world stand up and take notice".

Jones remains in hospital recovering from a stroke, but has been moved out of intensive care.

Wisemantel said that the players and staff were excited about taking on the best team in the world.

"Of course we were all worried about Eddie," Wisemantel said.

"But now that we know he is making a good recovery, we need to work out how to move forward."

Wisemantel said he had been in regular contact with Jones and he would be doing his best to move on with the Japan Way.

"Eddie is still the boss he is just not with us. I am getting advice from him, not orders and I would be mad not to as he is a master coach. Eddie is the head coach and my tenure is for this test and the European tour. Hopefully then Eddie will be back as it will mean he has had a speedy recovery."

Scrumhalf Fumiaki Tanaka, who plays Super Rugby with the Highlanders in New Zealand, is one player that can cause the All Blacks a few headaches, with Kiwi Steven Hansen admitting his side had the utmost respect for him.

"We're watching out for the lot, but there is a particular person who the boys are pretty to keen play against and that is the little scrumhalf from the Highlanders," he said.

"He has a huge amount of respect from the team and a huge amount of respect from the way he plays -- very tough, very small but he doesn't mind taking on the big guy."

Japan: 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Toshiaki Hirose, 13 Male Sau, 12 Craig Wing, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Shoji Ito, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Replacements: 16: Yusuke Aoki, 17 Yusuke Nagae, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Luke Thompson, 20 Takashi Kikutani, 21 Kosei Ono, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yoshikazu Fujita.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground, Tokyo
Kick-off: 14.00 (18.00 NZ time; 05.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Andrew Lees (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)