Rassie Erasmus has reiterated his view about Japan as a World Cup playoff threat in the wake of the host nation’s upset win against Ireland. JON CARDINELLI in Toyota reports.
Japan beat Ireland 19-12 in Shizuouka on Saturday. The result has increased the likelihood of the hosts finishing at the top of Pool A and facing the runners-up of Pool B in the playoffs.
The All Blacks took control of Pool B when they beat the Boks 23-13 on the opening weekend of the tournament. While South Africa bounced back with a 57-3 bonus-point win against Namibia on Saturday, they remain on course for a second-place finish in the pool and – unless something dramatic happens in the next two weeks – a quarter-final showdown with Japan.
The Bok coach stopped just short of saying ‘I told you so’ when he was asked about Japan’s stunning win against Ireland on Saturday evening.
‘We played Japan a few weeks ago. We won 41-7 but I said afterwards that the scoreline was not a true reflection of the game.
‘I said back then that we might end up playing Japan in the World Cup quarter-finals. Obviously there was a lot hinging on that game between Ireland and Japan, but I knew that Japan had a realistic chance of winning that game and the game against Scotland to top their pool.
‘We’ve beaten Namibia and if we beat Italy we will be in a position to finish second in our pool. If Japan keep winning they will become a realistic option to face us in the playoffs. It’s a bit of a scary option to play Japan.’
Erasmus feels that the Boks got what they needed from the match against Namibia. As many as 13 changes were made ahead of the clash in Toyota as Erasmus looked to give every player in his squad game time.
‘Perhaps Namibia didn’t challenge us tactically, but they did challenge us physically.
‘We got the five log points from this game. We got the physical challenge, and a lot of players got a good run. So we’re pretty happy with that.’
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