Rugby World Cup Sevens

Kirwan on the lookout

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 March, 2008, 12:00am

Some would call it a spying mission, but Japan coach John Kirwan says his role is simply a 'watching brief' as he arrives next week to cast his eye over the opposition in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup Sevens Asian qualifiers later this year in Hong Kong.

The former All Black winger in charge of the Japan national XVs squad also oversees the country's sevens set-up and the Under-20 programmes.

'I will be in Hong Kong not as a coach, but to watch the team in general. This is a good opportunity for me to see the standard of sevens,' Kirwan said. 'I played in Hong Kong years ago and it is great to come back as a spectator.'

The Japan Rugby Union has obviously targeted qualifying for the 2009 World Cup Sevens in Dubai as a priority. Only two places are available for Asia in the 24-team World Cup and that will be decided at a qualifying event in October.

Hong Kong Rugby Football Union head of performance Ivan Torpey said yesterday: 'Kirwan will be more interested at having an eye on the players who he feels can be involved at 15s.

'Of course, his input will be greatly welcomed by the Japan team.'