Japan must hit the ground running against Scots: Jones

Start of game super-important, says Eddi Jones. Photo: World Rugby

Start of game super-important, says Eddie Jones. Photo: World Rugby

BRIGHTON – A fast start against Scotland will be imperative if Japan are to make it two wins out of two and put one foot through the door to the quarterfinals, coach Eddie Jones said on Monday.
The Brave Blossoms have become media darlings of the tournament following their 34-32 victory over South Africa and it was standing-room only in as Jones unveiled his line-up for Wednesday’s match in Gloucester.
For what he dubbed his team’s “most important game” at Rugby World Cup 2015, Jones replaced six players from the Springboks match and made two positional changes, Harumichi Tatekawa shifting to fly-half from centre and Kotaro Matsushima switching wings.
All eyes will be on Japan to see if they can back up their stunning display against South Africa. To accomplish that, Jones believes his players will have to start the match well at Kingsholm Stadium.
“We see the start of the Scotland game as being super-important,” Jones said. “If you look at Scotland’s record over the last 15 games, unless they get the lead early they struggle to win a game of rugby.
“I always think if you play well in a game, the first part of the next game is difficult. We have to make sure we work hard in the first part of the game against Scotland and score some points early.
“We’ve got the most important game of the tournament against Scotland. As you know we’ve only had a short turnaround which we’re well used to, so we’re going to be well-prepared for the game.
“It’s interesting that before the tournament Scotland said we were going to tank the first game. So if we did tank the first game we’ve got a good performance coming up in our second.”
He added that there would be no need for an inspirational pre-match speech from him to fire up his players but he knows Vern Cotter’s side will be a tough proposition in their opening match of the tournament:
“If the players can’t get excited after Saturday I don’t know what’s going to excite them. They’re excited, so I don’t have to worry in that regard. Motivation is not an issue.
“Scotland’s going to be a much more difficult game for us because wherever they were set up, they watched the game. They are fresh and have the tactics to counter the way we play.
“Test-match rugby is about fronting up physically for the first 30 minutes of the game. If we’re in the game in the first 30 minutes I reckon we’ll win it.”
The former Wallabies coach also said he was pleased to see his team getting the limelight in Japan, where the Brave Blossoms have become overnight sensations. And Jones believes there is more to come from Japan in the tournament:
“Apparently rugby’s on the news now, which is unusual in Japan. It’s usually sumo, baseball, so the big sumo guys have had to move away for rugby.”
“It’s fantastic for the sport, fantastic for rugby. That can only be great for rugby going forward. The sport always talks about going global but an Asian country beating a top tier country makes it a real global sport.
“We didn’t come here to be a splash in the pond. We want to make a go at this World Cup.”
• World Rugby

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