As Japan and New Zealand’s national rugby teams are set to have their first test since 2011, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is expecting his team to face a competitive Japanese team. Both sides will be playing at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in central Tokyo on Saturday before the visiting team embarks on their European tour.
The World Cup champions may have not allowed a win for Japan during all their previous encounters but they are not leaving anything to chance. “We are expecting the Japanese to be very competitive,” Hansen admitted. “It will be important that we respect them and engage them in the physical aspects of the game before attempting to play too much ‘razzle dazzle’-type rugby.”
Meanwhile, Asia’s top national Rugby team will be playing on Saturday without head coach Eddie Jones. The Japanese-Australian coach needs further hospitalization after being found to have had a mild stroke following an inspection of the national team’s training camp last month. During his indefinite absence, technical adviser Steve Wisemantel will be taking charge of the Brave Blossoms.
“We really want to see how good we are,” said Wisemantel. Japan is currently ranked 15th in the world. “We need to attack New Zealand with and without the ball. We are not going out there with a defeatist attitude and just compete. We want to go out to win the game.” Leading the Japanese side in this campaign is skipper Toshiaki Hirose.
[via South China Morning Post]
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