Japan a 'sardine' in the sandwich says Joseph

Thu, 11 May 2017 08:25

REACTION: Japan coach Jamie Joseph said Thursday that the Brave Blossoms were World Cup small fry, despite a breakout performance two years ago.

The host nation will share the same pool as Ireland and Scotland for the 2019 tournament following Wednesday's draw in Kyoto, where Joseph confessed to feeling a little intimidated.

"It wasn't until I got on the stage beside [All Blacks coach] Steve Hansen and [England's] Eddie Jones that I realised the magnitude," the New Zealander told reporters.

"I felt like a small sardine amongst a bunch of tuna."

Japan shed their erstwhile tag as World Cup whipping boys at the 2015 World Cup, where they recorded three victories under Jones, including a stunning 34-32 win over two-time champions South Africa.

They have struggled to build on that momentum since, but avoiding the likes of the All Blacks, England and Australia in the group stage at least gives them a fighting chance on home soil.

"I read in the paper that we're in a favourable pool," shrugged Joseph. "But Ireland have beaten England and the All Blacks and in my mind are the third best team in the world.

"And Scotland is a team who, like Japan, are a very proud nation," he added before taking his team to Hong Kong for a slightly less glamorous Asian Rugby Championship fixture on Saturday.

"Japan have never been able to beat them and it just highlights how big a challenge the 2019 World Cup will be."

Joseph's side are expected to face a baptism of fire against either Ireland or Scotland in the opening match of Asia's first World Cup.

"There are two ways to look at it," he said. "You can play one of the tier one teams straight away and if you're successful - like in 2015 - you get a lot of confidence going forward and have a successful tournament.

"Or you lose and that puts a lot of pressure on the team. Then if you lose two, the tournament's over. Thankfully I don't have to make that decision. I'll accept whatever's coming and prepare accordingly."

Japan conveniently host Ireland and Romania - expected to be the third European team to qualify for Pool A - next month and Joseph is adopting a no-pain, no-gain attitude in the build-up to the World Cup.

"Next year the experience we get playing tough teams will be our best preparation," he said. 

"There is going to be some short-term pain but playing teams that are ranked ahead of us is the way forward."

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 November 2017
Cheetahs v Edinburgh 17h30 Bloemfontein
Ulster v Treviso 19h05 Kingspan Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Leinster v Dragons 19h35 RDS Stadium
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 19h45 Kingston Park
Sat, 25 November 2017
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 12h45 Welford Road
Bath v Harlequins 12h45 Recreation Ground
Italy v South Africa 13h00 Rome
Scotland v Australia 14h30 Cardiff
England v Samoa 15h00 Twickenham
Wales v New Zealand 17h15 Cardiff
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 17h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Ireland v Argentina 17h30 Aviva Stadium
France v Japan 19h00 Paris
Sun, 26 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Liberty Stadium
Kings v Scarlets 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 13h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 15h00 Allianz Park
London Irish v Wasps 15h00 Madejski Stadium
WORLD CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 17
Wales 4 3 0 1 13
England 4 2 0 2 11
Fiji 4 1 0 3 5
Uruguay 4 0 0 4 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa 4 3 0 1 16
Scotland 4 3 0 1 14
Japan 4 3 0 1 12
Samoa 4 1 0 3 6
United States 4 0 0 4 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 19
Argentina 4 3 0 1 15
Georgia 4 2 0 2 8
Tonga 4 1 0 3 6
Namibia 4 0 0 4 1
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 18
France 4 3 0 1 14
Italy 4 2 0 2 10
Romania 4 1 0 3 4
Canada 4 0 0 4 2