Springboks / 16 October 2019, 07:30am / Wynona Louw
Japan might remind Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick of Argentina but he’s expecting them to come at the South Africans with “something close to the All Blacks” when they meet in their World Cup quarter-final on Sunday.
Japan have been in top form at the rugby spectacle, emerging from the pool stages unbeaten.
Their high-tempo running game has been one of the finest productions in Japan, and while Stick complimented the hosts’ skills and growth, he explained that the Boks will come up with a plan to make sure they “keep up”.
“Japan are a good side, and are at home. The whole country is behind them, and we have seen how they have developed over the last couple of years. They are playing a good style of rugby - good, running rugby,” Stick said.
“They are playing a very high-tempo game. We know their plan is to keep the ball in play for close to 50 minutes, so that means it is going to be a tough challenge for us.
“But we are trying to adjust to be able to keep up with them. We will come up with a good plan, and we have been working very hard in training sessions to make sure we can keep up.
“I also have to compliment them and say that they are a very skilful side, and are well coached.”
The Boks got a taste of the “developed” Japan when they faced them in their final World Cup warm-up game. It was a match the South Africans won 41-7.
Still, the Boks will need no reminding of how dangerous the Brave Blossoms can be when they get the ball - a bit like the Kiwis, said Stick.
“They have some New Zealand coaches in their system, like Tony Brown. We know the New Zealand philosophy about the game, and putting the ball through the hands,” he said.
“So, we can expect something close to how the All Blacks are playing. But when I’m watching them, they remind me of Argentina. That is one side where if they have time, they can be dangerous.
“We must make sure we are at our best with our defensive systems, because they are very skilful and have quick players.
“Jamie Joseph compared their two wings to Ferrari cars, so we have to not allow those Ferraris to go to fifth or sixth gear.
“We must make sure we don’t underestimate anything.
“They are a proper side at the moment. We don’t talk about a Tier 2 side anymore, because they are ranked seventh.
"Whatever surprises they throw at us on the day, we must make sure we can handle those.”