Japan coach Joseph loves the clash with England at the Twickenham “cauldron”

Japan manager Jamie Joseph said he was looking forward to seeing his side take on the challenge of taking on England in the Twickenham ‘cauldron’ on Saturday.

The match sees the Brave Blossoms face one of their snooker opponents at next year’s Rugby World Cup in France, with Japan facing the tournament hosts in Toulouse on 20 November.

But former New Zealand international Joseph insisted he was “not thinking about the World Cup this weekend” as Japan vied for a first test win against England.

This will be only Japan’s third game at “headquarters” and the first since a 35-15 defeat four years ago when Japan led 15-10 at half-time.

“It’s an important match for us to play against England at Twickenham,” Joseph told reporters after naming his team on Thursday. “It’s one of rugby’s biggest challenges for a player. It’s a cauldron at Twickenham and it can be very intimidating if you’re not ready, but I think our boys are.

“I think they are really excited that there will be 23 men representing Japan in front of 80,000 Brits.”

England lost 30-29 to Argentina in their autumn debut at Twickenham last week, but Joseph still downplayed Japan’s chances.

“I don’t think we’re under pressure. I don’t think anyone expects us to win that game, but we have 23 guys who are very motivated to do well.”

Japan will field a starting XV almost identical to the one they suffered a close 38-31 defeat to New Zealand in Tokyo last month.

The only change is a direct exchange on the left flank, with Gerhard van den Heever moving to the starting flank and Siosaia Fifita falling to the bench.

Atsushi Sakate will once again lead the team as a hooker, while a dynamic full-back introduces Kazuki Himeno, former captain Michael Leith and Tevita Tatafu at number 8.

With van den Heever on the left wing, crowd favorite and World Cup hero Kotaro Matsushima covers the right wing.

As for England’s form, Joseph refused to read too much into Argentina’s result.

“It was their first game since July,” he said. “When it counts, they are a very resilient team.” They overcame the (chance of) a series defeat by winning two (games) in a row against Australia. This is the kind of team we have to face up against. “

The Brave Blossoms are renowned for a free running style that is in stark contrast to England’s forward-oriented play.

“We play rugby differently and we know we have to deal with the pressure of the ball,” said Joseph. “I imagine the turning point for us will be if we can do it, we can play under our own rugby brand.”

© 2022 AFP