Japan have nothing to lose

Japan coach John Kirwan may have seen a number of his first-choice players ruled out by injury and eligibility rules, but the former New Zealand winger remains confident ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup opener against Australia at the Stade Gerland.

“The team’s in good shape and we have done all we need to do for Saturday’s game,” Kirwan said following a training session at Stade Pierre Duboeuf in Bron.

“Injuries are part of our life.

“It’s never easy but the team has adapted well. Everyone’s positive and confident that we can perform at our best.”

With just four days separating Japan’s opening two games, Kirwan is expected to give all 30 members of his squad a start in the games against Australia and Fiji.

Takamichi Sasaki will lead the team against the Wallabies and the Suntory Sungoliath flanker said he was looking forward to the task ahead.

“We are looking at a good performance in the game,” Sasaki said.

“We want to show what Japan rugby really is. This is it. The World Cup starts now.”

Kirwan, like the rest of his coaching staff, was delighted that Australia had picked a full-strength side for the Pool B opener.

“Their whole team is competitive,” said Kirwin.

“They are the second best team in the world and have lots of experience. They have picked their top side and that is what we wanted. This is a huge opportunity. We have nothing to lose.”

While the Japan team is not nearly as experienced as the Wallabies, Kirwan is hoping that Tomoki Kitagawa will be a revelation.

The Sanyo Wild Knights wing was a late call-up, when Daisuke Ohata was injured, and Kirwan is hopeful he will be able to show the world just how quick he is.

“He is so quick he can turn off the bedroom lights and still get into bed before it gets dark,” Kirwan joked.


365 Digital

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