Ja­pan’s ro­man­tic tale tar­nished by pol­i­tics

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Rugby -

spot would com­plete that quest. If the game does get played, hooker Shota Horie will re­turn from the bench, lock Luke Thomp­son will re­place Wimpie van der Walt and winger Kenki Fukuoka, who scored the win­ning try against Ire­land, will come in for Lo­mano Le­meki. Will Tupou takes the place of Ry­ohei Ya­manaka.

“My team is mo­ti­vated by achiev­ing some­thing great, not avoid­ing em­bar­rass­ment,” Joseph said. “The reports I’ve read are about le­gal pro­ceed­ings around the ty­phoon. It’s a huge Test match for us. I feel we’ve got the most to lose be­cause we’re in the best po­si­tion to win the pool.”

Ja­pan are draw­ing, too, on their 45-10 de­feat by Scot­land at the 2015 tour­na­ment. “Four years ago, I was watch­ing the game in my dorm in univer­sity. I was in­spired by that Ja­pan team,” Kazuki Hi­meno said. “I was res­o­lute that I’d be­come one of the Ja­panese play­ers at this World Cup. We felt much bit­ter­ness af­ter that match.”

Joseph has en­deav­oured to harden the re­solve of this squad. Leitch said: “He’s a hard man. He’s had a great im­pact on this team.”

And Joseph him­self ref­er­enced his roots in All Black rugby to ex­plain the tran­si­tion he wants Ja­pan to make from ev­ery­body’s favourite un­der­dogs to ruth­less

‘The storm is some­thing we can’t con­trol, so we don’t care about it’

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