Japan reaction (head coach Joseph, captain Himeno, Lemeki, Leitch, Cornelsen, Naoto, Fukuda)

Japan reaction (head coach Joseph, captain Himeno, Lemeki, Leitch, Cornelsen, Naoto, Fukuda)


Michael Leitch, back row

On how Japan are progressing:

“Building up to the World Cup, we lost five games, against some quality opposition. But as the World Cup has gone on, we have grown and are improving as a team.

“There is a lot of pressure on the Argentina game, not just for us but them as well. If we win, it is a new history for Japan, being able to win overseas and get to the next stage. That would be an incredible achievement. But we just have to focus on next week’s preparation, be consistent and play well against Argentina.”  

On what they learned from the game:

“Around the collision zone, we soaked up lot of tackles and they got quite a lot of gain-line round the rucks. It is not too hard to fix though. We are happy with how our set-piece is operating, so we have just got to bring our A game next Sunday.”

Jack Cornelsen, second row

On the game:

“It was a physical game. There was definitely some sore bodies after that so we are keen to have a couple of days off to recover. But we got the win and gave ourselves a big chance going into next week’s game (with Argentina) to get ourselves into the quarter-finals.”

On Japan’s defensive effort:

“It’s something we have built up and we pride ourselves on our defence. We get a lot of energy and momentum from good defensive plays and that’s something we really want to improve on.”

On what Japan learned from the game:

“Samoa are a very good team and put us under pressure, especially in the second half. For us an 80-minute performance is going to be big, not letting the moment slip, making sure we control the game. It’s going to be a big one.

“Our attack when we got it going was good so there is a lot we can take away from a win like that.”

Rikiya Matsuda, fly-half

On the game overall:

“It was a very tough game, but I think we managed to win the game by playing our style of rugby. So we got some confidence out of this and this is a good lead into the next match.”

On Samoa’s physicality:
“We knew that they were going to target me physically, so I tried to front up to it, so that I can bring some momentum to the team. We knew what was coming, they were going to come direct so we needed to win the physical battle. We are all on the same page and coming together as a team.”

On facing Argentina in their final pool game:

“Set-piece is gong to be key against Argentina. As backs, we want to make sure we control the game and not put our forwards under pressure. So the kicking game will be key and I want to put the pressure back on them.”
Saito Naoto, scrum-half

On the last-minute call to start the game:

“I sort of knew it was coming. I was ready, and I’m always prepared for these situations so there was nothing to panic about.”

On how he see’s Japan’s attack improving:

“I think our growth since the last game against England is the way we react to dropped balls after contestable kicks, and finished plays by maintaining good quality.

“We knew that they would be stronger physically, so we focused on quick balls and putting the ball behind them.”

Kenta Fukuda, replacement scrum-half

On making his Rugby World Cup debut: 

“At this stage of the Rugby World Cup, I’m happy to have this opportunity to get on the field. The last-minute call was a bit of a surprise, but every week I was clear with what we needed to do so my preparation hasn’t changed.

"There was a bit of pressure at the end of the match, but that’s test rugby and after all, I’m happy that the team managed to get the win.”


Jamie Joseph, head coach

On the withdrawal of scrum-half Yutaka Nagare:

“First of all, Yutaka had a tight calf so we got a scan on it and there was a small strain there. We have got three good half-backs so we made the decision yesterday. Hopefully ‘Nagy’ will be available for the next test.

“I thought Naoto [Saito] played very well, coming in to start late in the piece. I’d also give a mention for Kenta [Fukuda]. He has not played at all for most of this year but he is one of our most valuable players because he always works really hard in training and stays positive, so we’re really lucky.” 

On decisions made during the match, including going for penalty kicks:

“If Kazuki [Himeno] felt that was the right call, we always back his decision. In the heat of the match, the players’ perspective of the situation is more important than the coaches in the coaches’ box.

“It is easy sitting in here talking about decisions. It is harder out there when you are under the pressure of the game. You prepare your players to make the right decision under pressure and have the courage to make the right decision. It is not always clear, so you have to back yourself.”

On the prospect of facing Argentina:

“Today just means got an opportunity to get to a quarter-final. It was a test match we had to win, and that’s what we’ve done today. The game itself was a real arm wrestle. Samoa’s players are big and physical and it was difficult for us, with the brand of rugby we play.

“The red card hit them but I think the two teams are very even. There is nothing much between us. Compared to four years ago [when Japan won 38-19 at RWC 209], it was a very different Samoa team we played today, with a lot more experience and better players. Both teams have really grown.

“When you come to a World Cup, there are three tier two teams and two tier one teams in each pool. To make a quarter-final, you have got to bowl over a tier one team.

“Samoa was a really hard game and England was a really hard game. But by winning tonight, we have created an opportunity for ourselves and that is really exciting for us.”

Kazuki Himeno, captain 

On how the Japan team is progressing with more games:
"We want to play quick rugby and attack the space, so the quality of that is improving, which is good for our next game. As a forward I’m pretty happy that we have scored three tries."

On his own performance and scoring a try:

"You can evaluate my performance, but condition wise I’m doing better. It’s all about the team so I have to just give my best. I’m genuinely happy that I added some points for the team."

On Samoa coming back in the second half:

"We knew there would be a tough time when we were preparing for the game. We have a phrase, “Samurai Time”, which reminds us of our courage and mentality, so that we can all be on the same page. We managed to do that during a tough period and defended well."

On how he encouraged the team as captain:

"Before the game I said, 'we are coming to the death zone but we’re not alone'. We did everything as a team. We have a strong bond so there’s nothing to be afraid of, that’s my message. For Argentina, it’s the same, We need the team to understand their roles, prepare well and stay consistent with it. So that’s what I’m going to drive next week."
On the red card for Samoa:

"For us, the red card didn't change our approach. Just because they are down to 14 men, that doesn’t mean anything to us. Our aim is to execute our game plan."


Lomano Lemeki, Mastercard Player of the Match

On his return to the Test arena:

"It is pretty unbelievable. I thought it was long gone but I got the call-up after the season and half a chance is better than no chance, so I just ran with it and here I am again."

On Japan's preparations: 

"These camps have been really tough.  We have been doing wrestling and stuff which is not fun, but it seems to be working, We put a lot of emphasis on this game but it is just a first step. We need to take it on to Argentina next week."

Kazuki Himeno, captain 

On his reaction to the result and the support of the Toulouse crowd:

"I am really proud of the boys. The effort and hard work of everyone is what won jus the game.

"We are always supported well, especially in these tough games. Without the fans' support, we couldn't achieve what we did tonight."

Jamie Joseph, head coach

On his reaction to victory:

“It was a really tough game and we had to work bloody hard to get the win. Hats off to the Samoan boys – they really took it to us.”

On his side’s defensive effort:

“They [Samoa] are big fellas aren’t they? They got on top of us at times and we had to really keep at it for the whole game. The commitment was certainly there but there were one or two things to work on for next week.”

On facing Argentina a week on Sunday, 8 October:

"That's our Grand Final, isn't it? We have got an opportunity to play a tier one team we have played a few times before. All the guys are going to be really excited for that - it is a big game for us."

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