Japan won't 'bow down' to England

Michael Leitch (Getty Images)
Michael Leitch (Getty Images)

London - Japan captain Michael Leitch has vowed his side will not "bow down" to England or their former coach Eddie Jones at Twickenham on Saturday.

England boss Jones advised Japan "go to the temple and pray" ahead of this weekend's match, with his current side thirsting for a victory after an agonising 16-15 loss to world champions New Zealand last weekend.

But Leitch, who made the bold decision to kick a penalty for the corner rather than go for the posts to set up the decisive try as a Japan side coached by Jones stunned South Africa 34-32 in the 2015 World Cup -- one of the great all-time rugby union upsets -- was not overly concerned by his former boss's comment.

"We have a saying in Japan: 'sou desu ne', which means 'yes' and that's all I can say," said back-row Leitch when asked about Jones' remarks.

"So we don't read into anything that's been said in the media, we just focus on what we're trying to do here.

"Coming up against England we're obviously not going to go there and bow down, we are going to go out there and win it."

Leitch left his native New Zealand for Japan aged just 15, later becoming a citizen in his adopted home.

The 30-year-old credited Australian coach Jones with having a major influence on his career, saying: "I've known Eddie since I was at university, so we have a great relationship.

"He's always been highly regarded, he started out in Japan back in 1998 or something like that.

"He's coached Suntory, won championships there, and obviously coached Japan and changed the history of Japanese rugby. So he's very highly regarded in Japan."

There are plans for a Hollywood film of Japan's stunning defeat of the Springboks, with New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison in line to play Jones.

"Eddie has a big role to play in that movie. The great thing Eddie did with Japanese rugby, he changed the mindset," explained Leitch.

"The national team always accepted losing, but once we changed that, he set us on the right track. Jake the Muss (Kiwi actor Temuera), they could not pick it better to play Eddie!"

England forwards coach Steve Borthwick also worked under Jones as a member of the Japan backroom staff that shocked the Springboks at the last World Cup.

"Steve was fantastic; he was a guy I could really rely on," said Leitch of the ex-England captain and lock.

"His expertise and leadership was something that really helped me in the four years' preparation for the World Cup.

"His expertise at line-out, maul, some of that detail and some of the standards he brought into the team are still here. We still use some of his language today."

Saturday's match will be only the second official Test between the two countries, with England having overpowered Japan 60-7 in Sydney during the inaugural 1987 World Cup.

It emerged this week that Japan, the 2019 World Cup hosts, are paying their 'amateur' players under 14 (2,000 Yen) per day, whereas their England counterparts earn 25,000 per match.

"Our home-based players are amateurs, they are employees of companies, and receive 2,000 Yen a day," said Japan coach Jamie Joseph.

"To be here and play a team like England is a great opportunity for a footy (rugby) team and a footy player," the former New Zealand international added.

"Our professional players, the foreign-based players that we have in our team, don't get paid for playing for Japan."

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