Eddie Jones, the Japan coach, is sick of hearing about his team’s “brave” losses at the World Cup.
They have not won a match in the tournament for 24 years, with their one and only triumph so far coming against Zimbabwe in 1991.
But Japan has managed two creditable draws since, once in 2007 and another four years later, but Jones wants to start chalking up some wins.
“At the welcome ceremony they showed a history of Japan at the World Cup and it was terrible,” said Jones. “And then they asked do we want to see it again. They just say we are brave and do our best but can’t win. But I haven’t spent the last four years so we can be treated like a joke. We are not here to be a joke side, we are here to win games.”
Jones knows what it takes to win a Rugby World Cup, having served as an assistant coach to the South African side that won the 2007 tournament four years after coaching Australia to the final.
The 55-year-old knows the odds remain stacked against his team this time after they were drawn in the same group as South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and the United States.
They face the Springboks first up, in Brighton on Saturday, and Jones is not expecting any charity from the two-time champions.
“You might as well play the best first and, from what we are hearing, South Africa are likely to play their strongest side,” he said. “Most tier-one sides would look at the game with us as a chance to play other members of the squad so it is probably a sign of respect and it’ll be fantastic for the Japan boys to play some of the best players in the world.”
Japan will host the next World Cup in 2019 and national captain Michael Leitch has said how important it is they put on a strong showing this time.
“Japan rugby needs the next win in order to be successful in advance of the 2019 World Cup and get the Japanese public behind the team,” he said.
“So this World Cup is an important stepping stone towards 2019. There is obviously a lot of pressure on our shoulders, but all we can do is our best.”
South Africa have cleared up a backlog of injuries and say lock Eben Etzebeth remains their only concern going into the game against Japan.
Etzebeth has a calf injury but team doctor Craig Roberts said that the lock was on track to play on Saturday, even though he would miss training at the start of the week.
Italy captain Sergio Parisse will miss his country’s opening World Cup game against France on Saturday. The 31-year-old No 8 has not fully recovered from surgery to drain a haematoma, an injury sustained in Italy’s recent 23-19 warm-up defeat by Wales.Reuse content