Are you a Springbok fan worried about Japan’s high-tempo attacking game? No need to fret, the Boks have got that covered, according to centre Lukhanyo Am.
Japan have been in superb form during the World Cup, having won all four of their pool games against Ireland, Scotland, Samoa and Russia.
Their offloading game combined with their dangerous backs have been one of the treats of the World Cup, but Am is confident that the Boks have good plans in place to keep the high-flying hosts in check when they meet them in their quarter-final contest on Sunday.
“We know Japan is a side that can keep the ball, and they want to improve their ball-in-play (time). We will counter that with all our plans in place,” Am said. “The Japanese move the ball quite a lot and their tempo is pretty high. We have been training hard at high tempo, so whatever they bring at us, we will be prepared for it.”
The Springboks beat Japan 41-7 in their final World Cup warm-up, and while many will say the score flattered the South Africans, it will still have served as a positive for the Boks following what happened in Brighton at the last World Cup.
Japan’s style was highlighted in that game as well, but it’s seemed to have become better in every game during the pool stages.
While Am had words of praise for their opposition, he said the Boks will adapt when they need to, adding that whichever team handles the pressure best will be successful.
“When we played them four weeks back, it was a warm-up game and less pressure on both sides. We’ve seen how they’ve grown in the past four Tests they’ve played.
“Going into this Test, we will adjust where we can. The team that controls the pressure will come out top.”
Meanwhile, Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick added that while dealing with Japan’s passionate crowd will be “tough”, he also took some comfort in how the locals have supported SA until now.
“Playing against the host nation, we know they are going to be playing with a lot of passion, and the supporters are going to be behind them,” Stick said.
“We could hear the vibe at the stadium at Yokohama (for Japan against Scotland) when watching on TV. It’s going to be a tough challenge, but the people of Japan have also been good to us. We’ve been here for more than six weeks, and the hospitality since we arrived in Kagoshima, the people have been supportive.
“They are at the airports with banners and signs for the players. I saw with Kwagga Smith, in one of the cities we’ve been to, there were lots of signs and banners written about Kwagga.
“That shows we also managed to get a good support base in Japan.”
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