Kirwan delighted with Japan World Cup berth

(RUGBYWORLDCUP.COM) Saturday 22 May 2010
Kirwan delighted with Japan World Cup berth
All Black great John Kirwan has taken Japan's national side to new heights

Japan coach John Kirwan was naturally delighted with Saturday's 94-5 win over Hong Kong, a result which booked his team's spot at next year's Rugby World Cup in his home country, New Zealand.

"We have qualified for the World Cup so I am very happy," he said. "The players have worked very hard and that was our best performance in the competition so far."

But the former All Black doesn't want his players to rest on their laurels.

"It's important we keep growing. I want to show the world how much we have improved and I hope we have the courage to play our style of rugby.

"I have never taken the field to lose a game and won't in New Zealand and I am sure the players feel the same."

Hong Kong coach Dai Rees had nothing but praise for Japan.

"We came up against a superb Japan side," Rees said. "They stand alone in Asian rugby."

Japan's performance was based on a superb effort by the pack that allowed the backs plenty of good ball. Alisi Tupuailei made the most of a glut of possession, scoring three first half tries, despite playing in the unfamiliar position of wing.

"It's been seven years since I played on the wing but I think I did all right," said the man who has also been outstanding for Japan's Sevens team in recent years.

"I only had two days of training but I don't mind playing there, especially when you've got skilful midfielders who create space for you."

The Canon Eagle spoke for all his teammates when he said: "I am stoked to be going to the World Cup. It's the first one for me and might be the only World Cup. I want to take the chance and make the most of it. I don't want to just go. I want to go there and perform and do really well."

Rees said the Japan team had improved considerably since last year, a point picked up on by captain Simon Leung.

"I have been lucky to play Japan a number of times and the team today was a very strong unit," he said.