Jamie Joseph's final message to Japan as they face the Lions
The experience has offered an insight into the right buttons to push when the Brave Blossoms play their first international since losing to South Africa in the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup.
“Playing a Test match for the All Blacks against the Lions, rather than playing for your province like Otago or Maori All Blacks, is a totally different level of pressure and expectation,” Joseph said.
“For the Otago v Lions game that we won there was no pressure and we were full of excitement. We had a great rugby team but we didn’t feel the burden of expectation.
“That allowed us to express ourselves and play. That learning is something that I want to be able to give our players in some way, shape or form.
“If we play to our potential, then we create opportunities. If we create opportunities and put on pressure, then there’s an opportunity to win the match and it’s all on.”
Japan were applauded for their enterprising, high-energy style at their home World Cup 18 months ago and Joseph insist the tactics used are a necessity.
“The brand of rugby that we play in Japan is based on the type of players that we have,” Joseph said.
“We played differently to a lot of the other teams at the World Cup which created a big following for us, not just within Japan but outside it too.
“But if I was coaching a different team and their skill set lent itself to a different type of rugby, then that’s the type of rugby we would play.
“It has always been like that in Japan. We are a lot smaller than most international sides, but we are very determined with a high skill level and high fitness levels.”
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