Jamie Joseph believes Japan have lulled South Africa into a false sense of security ahead of Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final.
The Brave Blossoms boss has dubbed Japan’s 41-7 loss to South Africa on September 6 a “rehearsal” not a World Cup warm-up – with the implication that Sunday’s Tokyo rematch will be no dry run.
Japan have starred at their home World Cup, hitting perfect pitch from opening night onwards in topping Pool A and booking a maiden last-eight battle.
The powerful Springboks have picked six forwards and just two backs on their bench in a clear bid to outmuscle the tournament hosts, but Japan head coach Joseph insisted this men know how to combat that threat.
“The rehearsal in September, I’m calling it a rehearsal; that match was a warm-up game for South Africa and they’ll find themselves in a unique position.
“I’ve renamed that Test match as a warm-up for South Africa and rehearsal for us and that’s something that no other team in the World Cup quarter-finals have had and I think that’s going to be a benefit for us.
“What is clear is what South Africa are going to do. It’s clear because of their selection of extra forwards on the bench, it’s not unique but shows they are physically going to approach the match using their forwards and being very physical.
“Consistency of their game around giving the opposition the ball and using defence and big forward pressure is a clear sign of intent and I guess that’s what we’ve been preparing for all the way.
“What not so clear is what we’re going to do and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
William Tupou failed a medical having had a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) during the 28-21 win over Scotland, and has missed out on Sunday’s last-eight encounter.
Ryohei Yamanaka starts at full-back for Japan then, with captain Michael Leitch alongside Pieter Labuschagne and Kazuki Himeno in the back-row.
Leitch admitted Japan are not happy with simply making the quarter-finals for the first time, with the skipper targeting another shock victory.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 18, 2019
“We’re not satisfied; the end is not here,” sad Leitch.
“We’ll play in the last eight and have another chance to show our game to our people. Each of us are playing to have more of that opportunity.
“South Africa look really scary at the start of the week, but we begin to feel really excited as we understand the game and think about how to break them down. That fear gradually fades and confidence rises.”