LONDON (Reuters) – It should come as no surprise to learn that Eddie Jones, the man who led Japan to the biggest shock in rugby history, is planning to pay his former team full respect when they play England at Twickenham for the first time on Saturday.
Under Jones, Japan stunned South Africa in the pool stages of the 2015 World Cup and, although they have not scaled anything close to similar heights since the Australian says England will treat them in exactly the same way they would approach a test against a tier one nation.
“We want to physically smash them because I know they’re going to come full of confidence,” Jones said after England’s 16-15 defeat by New Zealand. “I’ve heard some of the things they’ve said, they’ve been a bit cheeky, so look out.”
Although thrashed 69-31 at home by a second-string New Zealand team in their last match, Japan took great heart from running in five tries against the world champions.
“They’ve got a better coach now,” Jones said of former All Blacks flanker Jamie Joseph, who has been in charge for the last two years.
“I mean it, they’re seriously well-coached. They’re the highest kicking team in the world, they’ve got a really good defence system, they’ve got some good young players coming through.
“We’re taking it seriously and that’s why we have to be absolutely ruthless about the game.
“If you want to come out and watch a Barbarians game — don’t — stay home.”
Jones will obviously want to get back to winning ways on Saturday but is also using the match to try to replicate some of the logistical conditions England will face in next year’s World Cup in Japan.
“We’re giving the boys time off until Tuesday afternoon then we’ll come in and have three days prep for the game,” he said.
“It’s a good test for us to see how cohesive we can get in a short period of time which mimics the World Cup.”
England has played Japan once before, thrashing them 60-7 in the pool stages of the 1987 World Cup in Sydney.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ian Chadband)