INTERNATIONALS

Rugby World Cup 2015

Japan aiming to peak at World Cup

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 10:35pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 November, 2014, 4:22pm

Japan coach Eddie Jones pledged that the Asian champions would hit peak form at next year's World Cup as they bid for a 10th successive win when they take on Italy on Saturday.

The Brave Blossoms stretched their record winning streak to nine games with a 37-29 away victory over World Cup opponents the United States last weekend.

However, Jones warned that Italy - who have won all five of their previous meetings against the Japanese - would be a much different prospect in Saturday's clash.

Japan’s record against Italy is not impressive, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to change Japanese rugby history
Japan coach Eddie Jones

"It will be our toughest game of the year," said the former Australia coach.

"Japan's record against Italy is not impressive, so it's a fantastic opportunity to change Japanese rugby history."

Japan's recent success risks becoming a double-edged sword for Jones, however, as World Cup rivals devote more time to analysing how to avoid being upset in England next year.

"Of course we really want to peak at the World Cup," said Jones, insisting the best was yet to come from his side.

"We're progressing and we're not at a stage where we're at our best yet. We still believe there is a lot of [room for] progress in this team."

Jones has set a World Cup quarter-final target, but Japan's only previous victory at rugby's showcase tournament came against minnows Zimbabwe in 1991.

Japan's recent acquisition of former England skipper Steve Borthwick as forwards coach could give the hosts an edge against Italy in Tokyo where the line-out would be key, said Jones.