As soon as he got back on his feet, Japan rugby coach Eddie Jones has already set out an ambitious goal of getting the Brave Blossoms into the world’s top 10.
In his first press conference since suffering a minor stroke, the 53-year-old Australian said the team is growing in experience but added there’s still much to improve. He also praised the team’s performance against Scotland earlier this month but failed to show their true potential against New Zealand.
“I don’t want to criticize, but we simply didn’t play our rugby against New Zealand,” Jones said during the press conference held at the Japan Rugby Union headquarters on Friday. “We had two turnovers early on and kicked it straight back to them.”
“We can’t beat a good side playing orthodox rugby. We need to play a Japan style that is possession based.”
He said the team needs significant improvement in attack to balance its running, passing and kicking game. He also said the team needs to change its defensive system, specifically against the high ball.
“We’ve got two years to go. We’ve beaten all the sides behind us, so now we need to start beating consistently the sides in front of us like Fiji, Tonga and Italy,” Jones said.
Japan ranks 14th on the International Rugby Board’s world rankings, behind the three teams Jones mentioned. Japan beat Canada, Georgia, Romania and the US.
“Next year, we are going to put a real emphasis on getting even fitter and stronger, as we need to get faster in the way we play the game,” Jones said.
Jones also thanked hospital staff and the Japanese rugby community. “It’s been fantastic from the Japanese rugby community the support I’ve got, and I apologize for the incovenience I’ve caused.”
“Hopefully now we can get on with it. We’re halfway through to the 2015 World Cup, so I’ve got a lot to do now,” he said, later adding, “We don’t have a minute to waste.”
By Maesie Bertumen