Jamie Joseph insists Japan are desperate for Sunday’s clash with Scotland to avoid falling prey to Super Typhoon Hagibis after declaring his team want to seize their place among the elite.
Joseph is smarting at the suggestion the World Cup hosts would be pleased to see the climax to Pool A cancelled due to the approach of the region’s biggest storm of the year.
Hagibis is due to hit Japan’s biggest island Honshu on Saturday and has the potential to cause widespread devastation, bringing the Tokyo region to a standstill for days.
Japan’s final match of a triumphant group campaign consisting of three wins from as many outings, including a stunning upset of Ireland, could join England v France and New Zealand v Italy on the list of abandoned games.
But Joseph, the Brave Blossoms’ head coach, insists that would be an unsatisfactory way for the nation to reach the knockout phase for the first time.
“We feel we’ve played and won three Test matches and that’s put us in the best position to win this pool,” Joseph said.
“Just in the past few days through the media reports I’ve read, I feel they’ve undermined the achievements of the Japanese national team and the significance of Sunday’s Test for Japan.
“We’ve all earned the right to be considered one of the elite teams in the world. It’s important for us to wake up on Monday morning and understand we’re a worthy top eight team or we’re not.
“The key difference here between us and Scotland is that we’re driven and supported by the whole country.
“My team is motivated by achieving something great, not avoiding embarrassment.”
It has been suggested that Scotland will take legal action against World Rugby if a contingency plan to play the game is not put into place.
“All the media reports in the last three days have been about an uncontrollable thing like a typhoon and they’ve lost sight of the significance of this Test match for us,” Joseph said.
“The reports I’ve read are about legal proceedings around the typhoon. The significance for us is that 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. Ireland could play tomorrow (Saturday) and win and our game could get called off.
“While everyone’s saying that would be good for Japan, it wouldn’t be good for this team because they are top of the league.
“I’d like to remind everybody it hasn’t been a fluke, it’s been a lot of hard work by a lot of people.
“This team has been in camp for 240 days this year alone. Whilst the majority of my players are professional in their companies, we are an amateur rugby team.
“What that means is that when our players are in the camp with Japan they do not get paid – or they get around 100 bucks a day.
“I’ll let you guys do the maths and make the comparisons to the other teams. The last comment I’ll make is that everyone in our sport – the players and staff – want to play the Test match.”
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