Japan's dire need ahead of World Cup
REACTION: Japan’s Dylan Riley said his side need to play more Test matches to “keep building” before next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The Brave Blossoms have played just 12 Tests since reaching the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup on home soil.
Earlier on Sunday, Japan suffered a 17-35 defeat to France.
Les Bleus are ranked second in the world and have played 30 internationals since the tournament three years ago.
“There was a period, due to Covid-19, that Japan couldn’t get games so it doesn’t help but I feel we have to keep building,” Riley told AFP after the loss in Toulouse.
“It’s a great opportunity to play teams like this, teams from Tier One.
“I feel like we’re putting pressure on them,” the 25-year-old added.
During the week before the loss to Les Bleus, Riley’s side were based near Toulouse, where they will be during the World Cup.
They will play Chile and Samoa next September in the group stages in Le Stadium.
“It’s unreal, we stayed just outside the city, we got our bearings a bit,” Riley said.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to come over here and experience a World Cup.
“It would be a dream come true. I have to keep working and hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity,” he added.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) November 20, 2022
Wild Knights return
Riley, who can play centre and wing, started all of his country’s games including a tight loss to New Zealand and a heavy defeat to England during their end-of-year campaign as well as the game against France.
“It’s a disappointing end to our tour but I think we showed that we can produce some opportunities. We just didn’t capitalise on them,” he said.
“It shows the quality side that the French are. It’s why they’re probably number one in the world at the moment,” he added.
Riley grew up in Australia and appeared for the Wallabies’ under-20s in 2017 before joining the Japanese club now named Saitama Wild Knights two years later.
The Wild Knights, backed by multi-national corporation Panasonic, start the defence of their Japan Rugby League One title in December with the likes of World Cup winner Damian De Allende and Australia’s Marika Koroibete in their squad.
“I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve been in a long camp with Japan,” Riley said.
“It will be good to get back and connect with teammates at Panasonic.
“I haven’t been part of any leagues but League One, each year I’ve been involved with it, it’s grown exponentially.”