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Ireland come into the match off the back of an encouraging demolition of Six Nations rivals Scotland, but they now have to cope with Japan’s “Ferrari” wing, hat-trick hero Kotaro Matsushima who lit up the opening night of the World Cup when the hosts saw off Russia 30-10 in Tokyo.
Japan boss Jamie Joseph quickly likened the 26-year-old to Italy’s black-horse branded sports cars, tipping the South Africa-born winger to continue to impress at the tournament.
Matsushima himself looked to downplay that comparison but had few qualms in highlighting Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale’s much-vaunted power game. Insisting it would be difficult to give himself a nickname, Matsushima said of Stockdale: “Well he’s big, so he’s like a speedy truck I would say; a two or three metric ton truck.”
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Japan have spoken at length all week about their readiness to conquer the nerves that racked their opening night performance against Russia.
The Brave Blossoms admitted to being overawed by the occasion of the curtain call on the first World Cup in Asia, with a raucous capacity crowd something they had not previously encountered.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 26, 2019
Head coach Joseph’s men struggled under the high ball, and know they can ill afford to repeat such shortcomings against an Ireland side stacked with aerial threats.
Matsushima still believes he can bag two tries against the Irish however, in a bold prediction of bidding to extend his hot scoring streak.
Ireland promised after 2015 they would not be caught winging it at the 2019 RWC with an inexperienced out-half starting at No10 in a big match in place of Johnny Sexton, but they have not delivered on that aim https://t.co/Y2QThUAiJW
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 27, 2019
“There were lots of things that didn’t go well against Russia,” said Matsushima. “There will be good chances once the ball comes out wide and I’d like to score two tries.
“Under the high ball, the first thing is to persevere. Even if we drop balls we need to maintain a strong connection among the back-three, keep our positions where each of us can help each other out and don’t give away possession easily. We need to start with the catcher doing his job first.”
WATCH: Joe Schmidt and Rory Best discuss Ireland’s team selection to face Japan
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