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Rugby: Japan Hope to Smash Predictable England Before Getting Smashed

The game of rugby was invented 200 years ago and has undergone many changes since then, but according to scrum coach Shin Hasegawa, the Brave Blossoms’ next opponent at the Rugby World Cup have been playing the same way for much of that time.

“England have been playing the same way for the past 100 years,” Hasegawa said Wednesday following his team’s training run at Stade Ernest Wallon.

“They have strong forwards and will use their physicality upfront.”

And the key Hasegawa said to beating the 2003 champions was to “smash them before being smashed.”

“We know where England will pressure us and we want to turn that pressure into pressure.”

Head coach Jamie Joseph will name his team for Sunday’s game in Nice on Friday and prop Gu Ji Won is hopeful he can take part, despite still having his right knee heavily strapped following a late and dangerous tackle during the victory over Chile last weekend.

“I am taking things day by day and almost ready to play,” Gu said, refusing to go into any further detail on the exact injury he had suffered.

Gu struggled at scrum time when the teams last met in November 2022 at Twickenham (when England won 52-13) and he is keen to get some revenge.

“I want to get back at them and prove myself,” he said.

Joining Gu at Wednesday’s press conference was hooker Shota Horie, who laughed off the presence of former Saitama Wild Knights teammate George Kruis as a spot coach with the England team.

“He doesn’t understand Japanese, so we will be fine,” Horie said when asked if the Brave Blossoms may have to change their line-out calls.

But Horie then turned serious adding the former England international “is very knowledgeable about the scrum, line-out and maul and will put his heart into that. So we have to consider his input.”

Gu, aside, the rest of the Japan squad trained on Wednesday, with captain Kazuki Himeno showing no signs of the calf injury that kept him out of the opening weekend.

Center Tomoki Osada, meanwhile, was sporting a bandage on his head but trained throughout and looks set to be named at 13.

Japan currently top Pool D following their 42-12 win over Chile, while England are a point behind thanks to their 27-10 victory over Argentina.

“We need to focus on playing our game,” said Horie. “Decision-making will be important, but if we can shift the ball then we will be OK.”

Source : Kyodo News