TOKYO – Japan captain Michael Leitch is a man who welcomes pressure and believes he performs best under it. Which is a good thing, considering the weight of expectation on his considerable shoulders going into a World Cup on home soil.
Leitch, who moved to Japan from New Zealand aged 15, has been the Brave Blossoms captain since 2014 and is clearly the main man in Jamie Joseph’s squad, setting the tone on and off the field.
Leitch believes the key area of improvement in Japanese rugby under his stewardship has been in changing the squad’s mentality and demanding that the players see themselves as potential tournament winners.
It means being able to handle the pressure, one of Leitch's favourite words.
“I love pressure,” Leitch told Reuters.