- Title: â€˜Scaryâ€™ to think how far Japan could grow â€“ captain Leitch
- Date: 14th October 2019
- Summary: YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (OCTOBER 14, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** JAPAN CAPTAIN MICHAEL LEITCH ARRIVING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE LEITCH DRINKING WATER NEWS CONFERENCE UNDERWAY (SOUNDBITE) (English) JAPAN CAPTAIN, MICHAEL LEITCH, SAYING: "I haven't actually slept. I have been awake the whole time. I was in my bed at 1.30 and I have been awake ever since so I am a bit slow today. Looking back, even since 2011, this team has grown so much and it is scary to think about how far this team could actually grow. The last four games, we are getting better each time, confidence is growing. The support the fans give us, we really feel that during the game." NEWS CONFERENCE UNDERWAY (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPAN CAPTAIN, MICHAEL LEITCH, SAYING: "For last four weeks, undoubtedly Jamie Joseph has been good. For the Russian match, then against the Irish, he chose the best team. I returned to the bench, (he) changed the match captain to (Pieter) Labuschagne etc. The leadership group, Jamie and the coaching staff put an importance on the word 'alignment' and the consistency of that message is important. Looking back over the last four weeks, I think Jamie has been very good." JAPAN 2019 LOGO / JAPAN BRAVE BLOSSOMS LOGO (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPAN CAPTAIN, MICHAEL LEITCH, SAYING: "I would like to study now (before the knockouts). During my rugby history, there are many All Blacks players that I have played with, Richard Kahui, Stephen Donald and Cory Jane. I would like to have a word with them in terms of how they have done and dealt with being in knockout matches. Honestly, our mentality will be important, but since Japan is hosting the tournament, I have a strong feeling that we will want to show a good game to the Japanese again. The players are happy because they have got that chance again now." NEWS CONFERENCE ENDING LEITCH LEAVING
- Embargoed: 28th October 2019 05:00
- Keywords: Japan Scotland South Africa Rugby World Cup asia rugby union sport New Zealand Michael Leitch Jamie Joseph
- Location: YOKOHAMA, JAPAN
- City: YOKOHAMA, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Rugby Union,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001B12HKJJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Japan captain Michael Leitch said on Monday (October 14) it was 'scary' to think just how much the Brave Blossoms could grow following the momentous victory over Scotland on Sunday (October 13) that secured their first ever Rugby World Cup quarter-final berth.
Japan produced a scintillating display of attacking rugby to beat Scotland 28-21 on an unforgettable night at Yokohama Stadium and progress from Pool A, becoming only the fourth tier-two nation to achieve this feat.
Leitch, who said that he hadn't been able to sleep all night following the excitement of Sunday's historic victory, believes the sky is the limit for Japanese rugby, not just at this tournament but going forward.
"Looking back, even since 2011, this team has grown so much and it is scary to think about how far this team could actually grow," reflected Leitch, who made his Japan debut in 2008.
After captaining the side in the World Cup opener against Russia, Leitch was dropped to the bench for the shock win over Ireland and coach Jamie Joseph has made several other bold decisions during the tournament, all of which have paid off.
The results have been consistent, with Japan winning seven of their last eight matches.
However, that one loss did come against quarter-final opponents South Africa, a 41-7 drubbing in the last World Cup warm-up match last month.
Japan feel they are a different side now but playing in the knockout stages, particularly against a team who have twice won the competition, is step into the unknown for all of Japan's players.
Leitch said he will be reaching out to former teammates, including 2011 World Cup winning All Blacks Cory Jane and Stephen Donald, for their advice on how to deal with the knockout stages.
(Production: Jack Tarrant)
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