Japan face Tongan test of size and strength

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:00
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NOVEMBER INTERNATIONALS: Japan will use Saturday's game against Tonga to match up against bigger and stronger opponents on their difficult road to hosting the 2019 World Cup.

The Japanese head into the first match of their European tour in the French rugby hotbed of Toulouse on the back of a crushing 30-63 defeat by Australia in Yokohama.

A clash with France at the newly-opened U Arena in Nanterre outside Paris follows on November 25.

"Tonga is a very physical side with very big means, that's the way they play the game and at some stage we are going to need to confront it," New Zealand-born coach Jamie Joseph said

"It's going to be a very, very tough game. They're obviously a bigger team than us, they will try to intimidate us and take us on us physically but we've got a few tricks ourselves."

Japan's New Zealand-born captain Michael Leitch said he was using the Tonga game as a confidence builder as the months tick down to the World Cup.

"In terms of preparation, I think that the squad we've got now is a core of our squad. It's getting better but we still have some more time to really grow the team.

"This game against Tonga is really about getting confidence in our preparation," he said.

Agence France-Presse