Coach Eddie Jones says it’s no secret that Japan will be looking to play with ball in hand and run the Springboks ragged in their World Cup opener on Saturday.
The wily coach issued a few verbal barbs during the Japan team announcement on Thursday, suggesting the Boks would understandably be nervous after a disappointing Rugby Championship, while also reiterating the pressure they’d be under to perform.
Although Jones worked as a coaching consultant during the Boks’ successful 2007 World Cup campaign, he said this experience would have no real bearing on Saturday’s first Test meeting between the Boks and Japan.
‘South Africa are a pretty straightforward team, we know what they are going to do. If they get a lineout on the 50m line … they’re going to drive and drive, until they get a penalty, or the halfback will stick the ball in the air. All of that knowledge, everyone has it, I don’t think it’s an advantage I have.
‘Everyone knows South Africa are a big physical team who will try and monster you. Like any team, we’ve just tried to prepare as tactically well as we can, but Test rugby is about fronting up physically, that’s what it’s all about.’
Jones said Japan would need to stick to their strengths and would look to ‘run the Boks around’, but also acknowledged the enormity of the task at hand.
‘It's a real David versus Goliath game … they are a massive physical team with plenty of experience. Japan have the least winning record in the World Cup and have the smallest team. But it is a great opportunity and I'm looking forward to it.’