Duane runs the rule over Japan threats
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus wants his team selection to send a ‘strong’ message about the respect they have for Japan.
Veteran loose forward Duane Vermeulen said the coach is justified in sending the ‘A-Team’ into battle in a World Cup warm-up game against the host country.
Japan and South Africa will face off in Kumagaya City on Friday – the final outing for both teams before the global showpiece gets underway in a fortnight.
Vermeulen described the Brave Blossoms as a “well-oiled” team – especially the pack.
Coached by New Zealander Jamie Joseph, Japan has won their last four games – including an unbeaten run in the Pacific Championship against Fiji, Tonga and the United States.
“We’ve done a bit of analysis and their pack will be a handful,” Vermeulen told a media scrum this week.
“They are not shy to move around on the field.
“They will be a big threat at the breakdowns and they have some good ball carriers as well – some of whom I know well,” the 33-year-old said, adding: “It will certainly not be an easy game.
“We have to ensure we prepare well and put in as much work as we can before the game on Friday.”
The other aspect that will repeatedly feature in the build-up to Friday’s game is Japan’s famous win over the Springboks in Brighton at the World Cup four years ago.
However, fleet-footed backline star Cheslin Kolbe suggested the Boks should not be caught up in the hype surrounding the history between the two sides.
“We are a proud nation and will always go out to win,” the 25-year-old utility back said.
“We should not be worried about what happened four years ago, we should be focussed on the match this coming Friday.”
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Friday’s Test will afford the Boks the opportunity to get accustomed to the infamous heat and humidity that so often bedevil teams visiting Japan.
High temperatures are forecast for Kumagaya, with a maximum of 34°C, easing to 24°C – but with humidity to make Durban proud.
“We must not play with fear but rather our natural game.”
“The humidity and playing with a wet ball is something we had to get used to, and it probably means we will have to simplify our game slightly – perhaps playing a bit closer to each other.
“However, we are getting used to it.
“In the end, rugby is rugby and you just have to play.”
Vermeulen echoed similar sentiments.
“We will have to pay more attention to the small details.
“We must ensure everyone knows what to do with the slippery ball,” said Vermeulen, who had a taste of Japanese rugby with the Kubota Spears club last year.
“It’s really great to be back in Japan.
“I experienced the conditions when I played here last year, but even if you know what the weather holds, it’s still difficult to get used to because of the humidity affects everyone.”
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