Jones back af­ter stroke to plot Ja­pan’s road ahead

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

JUST a month af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke, Ja­pan rugby coach Ed­die Jones is al­ready back at work and plot­ting the Brave Blos­soms’ path to break into the world’s top 10.

Speak­ing at the Ja­pan Rugby Foot­ball Union head­quar­ters yes­ter­day, Jones praised 14th-ranked Ja­pan’s per­for­mance against Scot­land ear­lier this month, but said they had failed to show their true po­ten­tial against New Zealand.

“I don’t want to crit­i­cise, but we sim­ply didn’t play our rugby against New Zealand,” said Jones, who was re­leased from hos­pi­tal last Satur­day. “We had two turnovers early on and kicked it straight back to them.

“We can’t beat a good side play­ing or­tho­dox rugby. We need to play a Ja­pan style that is pos­ses­sion based.”

Scott Wise­man­tel took charge of the team af­ter Jones was hos­pi­talised on Oc­to­ber 15 and di­ag­nosed with a mi­nor stroke af­ter com­plain­ing of a se­vere headache.

Aus­tralian Wise­man­tel over­saw a 54-6 rout by the All Blacks in Tokyo and a 42-17 de­feat to Scot­land in Ed­in­burgh.

“We’ve beaten all the teams be­hind us [in the world rank­ings]. Now we have to start beat­ing those above us, such as Italy, Fiji and Tonga,” the 53- year-old said.

“We were good for 50 min­utes against Scot­land, but we need to turn that into 80 if we are to beat sides like that.

“Next year, we are go­ing to put a real em­pha­sis on get­ting even fitter and stronger, as we need to get faster in the way we play the game. We’ve got two years to go to get into the Top 10 in the world.”

In terms of his own fit­ness, Jones said sim­ply be­ing able to touch his toes was a sign of progress af­ter the stroke.

“I am at about 98% now,” he said. “I can stretch and touch my toes — which I couldn’t do be­fore.” — Reuters.

PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES

Ja­pan coach Ed­die Jones is back at work a month af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke, and plans to plot his team’s path to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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