Japan v Chile - teams and prediction
PREVIEW: Japan are hoping that opening their World Cup campaign against tournament debutants Chile will give their Group D campaign in France a sense of deja vu.
Four years ago as hosts, Japan opened against that edition’s minnows Russia, won 30-10 and followed that by beating Ireland, Samoa and Scotland and advancing to the quarterfinals, for the first time.
After Chile, at 22 the lowest-ranked nation at the World Cup, Japan will face struggling England, Samoa and Argentina.
“The draw we have is very similar to 2019 in that we had Russia first up and then matches against progressively more difficult opposition,” Japan coach Jamie Joseph said on Friday.
His team has won just once this year, against Tonga in a warm-up game on July 29. They lost to one of their group opponents Samoa by two points a week earlier.
“We’re not getting too far ahead around anything. Our first focus is ourselves. Chile is the opposition, but we’re focusing on ourselves and getting back to playing our best rugby,” Joseph said.
Chile will be playing their first-ever game in the World Cup.
“The most important thing we have is that we fight for every ball, our sacrifice, our solidarity with each other, be together as one,” said assistant coach Ricardo Cortes.
“That is all very important in order to put together a great team. Games are not won by individuals, but by teams and that is our focus.”
“What would a perfect Rugby World Cup mean for us? Win two games.”
Japan captain Kazuki Himeno sounded a note of caution at a press conference on Friday.
“They will be playing as though this is the final game,” he said.
“I think they will be strong mentally but we have to be better than them mentally. The collisions are strong, it is their strength.
“Up front we need to take them, once we get that right I think we can get pace (into our game).”
Joseph has picked Kotaro Matsushima, who scored a hat-trick of tries against Russia four years ago and finished the World cup with five, at right-wing rather than full-back.
“I just think Matsushima has played, for Japan, better on the wing than he has at full-back,” said the coach.
“He is a very quiet man. We need a guy who can talk and communicate a lot at full-back. He is an awesome rugby player in terms of how he can attack and there is less responsibility around communicating when you are on the wing than at full-back.”
Himeno said he sees good signs.
“I think the team is going well,” said the captain. “I can feel the confidence in the team, I’m really excited.”
Chile have not won since upsetting the United States to qualify.
In the home leg against the United States, hulking fly-half Rodrigo Fernandez suggested he could be a star in the making, picking the ball up the ball deep in his own half and splashing through a muddy pitch and almost the entire Eagles team to score. World Rugby voted it their 2022 try of the year.
The weather will be very different for Sunday’s game which kicks off in the early afternoon with temperatures forecast to rise well over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in Toulouse.
“With the heat you get a slippery ball and the way we play, with the amount of passes we execute, nearly double the amount of other teams, it puts a lot of pressure on our skillset,” said Joseph.
@rugby365com: Japan by 15 points.
Japan: 15 Semisi Masirewa; 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Jone Naikabula; 10 Rikiya Matsuda, 9 Yutaka Nagare; 8 Jack Cornelsen, 7 Kanji Shimokawa, 6 Michael Leitch, 5 Amato Fakatava, 4 Amanaki Saumaki, 3 Jiwon Gu, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu,19 Warner Dearns, 20 Shota Fukui, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Tomoki Osada, 23 Lomano Lemeki.
Chile: 15 Inaki Ayarza; 14 Santiago Videla, 13 Domingo Saavedra, 12 Matias Garafulic, 11 Franco Velarde; 10 Rodrigo Fernandez, 9 Marcelo Torrealba, 8 Alfonso Escobar, 7 Raimundo Martínez, 6 Martín Sigren (captain), 5 Javier Eissmann, 6 Clemente Saavedra, 3 Matias Dittus, 2 Diego Escobar, 1 Javier Carrasco.
Replacements: 16 Augusto Bohme, 17 Salvador Lues, 18 Inaki Gurruchaga, 19 Pablo Huete, 20 Santiago Pedrero, 21 Ignacio Silva, 22 Lukas Carvallo, 23 José Ignacio Larenas.
Date: Sunday, September 10
Venue: Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
Kick-off: Kick-off: 13.00 (11:00 GMT; 08.00 CLST, 20.00 JST)
Referee: Nic Berry (AUS)
Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson (RFU), Andrea Piardi (ITA)
TMO: Tom Foley (RFU)